The complex in northwest Washington near the Maryland border shifts most of its operations in August and finally shuts its doors on September 15 as a part of a consolidation with the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
The new facility will be called the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and will have campuses in Bethesda and Fort Belvoir, Va.
"The ceremony is not a closing, but a transition of the organization to the next iteration of what we call 'Borden's Dream,' so named after the Army Doctor who had the vision to create the first Walter Reed General Hospital," Col. Norvell Coots, commander of the Walter Reed Health Care System, said in a statement.
"But for the people who make Walter Reed the magical place that it is, this will be an emotional closure as we shut down this campus after more than 102 years of service to the nation," Coots said.
More than 1,000 people attended the "casing of the colors" ceremony where the flag of the unit was taken down and put into a protective covering, marking the unit's inactivation, according a spokesman.
With the center a century old, it's probably past time for this to have happened. Ironically, medical advances brought about by research and care of wounded veterans at places like Walter Reed has made it more necessary to house and treat soldiers with brain and spine injuries rather than to lose them to the ravages of combat.
And these days, our men and women in uniform are certainly seeing a lot of combat. More soldiers are surviving the kind of deadly wounds from IEDs and bombs that even ten years ago would have killed them, but the downside is these wounded warriors need long-term care and assistance. The Army and Marine Corps are especially having difficulties adjusting financially to this new reality, hence the closing of Walter Reed in order to consolidate operations with the NNMC in Bethesda.
Of course the primary driver of all this has been our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. With six weeks to go until the tenth anniversary of 9/11, we're still losing troops in both countries and many more are being critically injured.
They deserve to be brought home.