Bethesda, Md. (NNS) — Staff and patients at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) welcomed Prince Harry of Wales to the Nation’s Medical Center, May 10.
Rear Adm. (Dr.) Alton L. Stocks, WRNMMC commander, his senior staff and Capt. Frederick Kass, Naval Support Activity Bethesda commanding officer, greeted the prince who was wearing his British Army Air Corps combat uniform and desert boots upon arrival. A captain in the British army, the prince, known as Captain Wales in the military, has served two tours of duty in Afghanistan.
Visiting the Gait Lab, Computer-Aided Rehabilitation Environment (CAREN), Prosthetics Lab and Military Advanced Training Center (MATC) at WRNMMC, Prince Harry took in the state-of-the-art technology used to treat patients at Walter Reed Bethesda with great interest, but he appeared more engaged hearing from staff, wounded warriors, and their families who receive care here.
“I believe it would be a wonderful opportunity for everyone in America to spend a day or two on this campus and see the spirit of these families and the spirit of these warriors, and their determination to move forward in their lives, whether in the military or as a full members of society,” Stocks said. “It is truly amazing, and not one that I have spoken to has any regrets. They are so proud to have served their country.”
Prince Harry witnessed this spirit firsthand during his visit to the Nation’s Medical Center.
In the CAREN, the prince observed Army Spc. Corey Garmon, injured by an improvised explosive device (IED) in Afghanistan in July 2012, go through a session in the high-tech room which combines integrated virtual reality environments with motions platforms, instrumented treadmills, surround sound and other functions. The CAREN is used to improve the balance, stability and other capabilities of patients following serious injuries and illnesses, such as amputations, traumatic brain injuries and strokes.
When asked by the prince about the care he’s receiving at WRNMMC, the Army specialist described it as “awesome.” The prince thanked Garmon for his service and sacrifice, and the Soldier said he appreciated his words of encouragement.
The prince also observed WRNMMC staff at work in the prosthetics lab, where they make and fit innovative prosthetics, including powered knees, hands and ankles, allowing many amputees to perform numerous daily activities and functions.
In the MATC, Prince Harry met wounded warriors, other patients and their families, and observed their rehabilitation in the facility with the latest cutting-edge equipment helping in their recovery. He shared stories with one Soldier, Master Sgt. Cedric King, whose unit was deployed to Afghanistan and served alongside British forces from the same unit as the prince.
“It was awesome that he came out to see everyone,” said Army Spc. Eric Hunter, who was receiving therapy in the MATC when the prince arrived. “It always means a lot when someone like that visits,” added the Soldier, injured by an IED May 31, 2012, while on patrol in Afghanistan.
Marine Cpl. Nathan Jakubisin agreed it was an honor meeting the prince. “He thanked us for what we do,” added the Marine, also injured by in IED while conducting patrol in Afghanistan in June 2012.
A family member receiving care in the MATC at WRNMMC, Andrew McCaffery, 14, said the prince wished him well during their brief conversation. “It was pretty cool” meeting the prince, added the teenager. “Everyone doesn’t get to meet a prince. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing.”
Andrew’s mother, Lisa McCaffery, agreed. “The question that [Prince Harry] asked Andrew was, ‘What was his story?’ I thought that was really neat. I just think the fact that [the prince] took time to stop in here and see how our Soldiers are recovering, is wonderful.”
For more news from National Naval Medical Center, visit www.navy.mil/local/nnmc/.