Thanks to the help of private donations around the country, many of our nation’s wounded troops can look forward to treatment at a new $50 million state-of-the-art care new facility opened in San Antonio, Texas.
The recent ribbon cutting on The Center for the Intrepid – a 60,000 sq. ft., physical rehabilitation center – and two new Fisher Houses, 21-room residences for hospitalized soldiers’ families, demonstrates "a wonderful example of Americans giving back to the men and women who serve our country,"according to organizers who helped put it together.
"What you see before you is a monument built by the contributions of 600,000 Americans - kids who gave pennies...and mothers and fathers who just wanted to say thank you," said Mr. Arnold Fisher, Chairman of the Board for the Intrepid Museum Foundation and organizer of the fund that built the facility. "When you go inside you will see the most modern, advanced and unique training and rehabilitation center devoted to the advancement of the science and art of prosthetic rehabilitation and care for burn victims."
Donations for the facility came in all across the nation, including one sizable donation from the Michael Dell Foundation. Dell Inc., founded by Michael Dell over 20 years ago, is also one of the first partners of Veterans Advantage.
More than 3,200 guests included senior military leaders, major contributors, many of the injured service members from Brooke Army Medical Center and several celebrities that included Denzel Washington, Rosie O’Donnell, Michelle Pfeiffer, with a performance by John Mellencamp.
Senators Hillary Clinton and John McCain—both of whom lent personal support to the program—along with the Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Peter M. Pace, the Honorable Gordon England, Assistant Secretary of Defense and Secretary of the Army Francis J. Harvey and Secretary of the Department of Veteran Affairs, the Honorable R. James Nicholson, made the following remarks during the dedication.
"[The namesake for the facility, U.S.] Intrepid is an example of how our country came together after a devastating attack on Pearl Harbor. The keel of the Intrepid was laid one week after Pearl Harbor. An attack that devastated our navy and shocked our country. And, the Intrepid was our first answer. To show the enemy that they have damaged our ships, but not our spirits. We are here again to celebrate once again that spirit."
"This center stands as that pledge: A solemn pledge of the healing and support our nation owes every one of you," Mrs. Clinton added, addressing many wounded soldiers at the dedication ceremony.
"I am proud to be part of this wonderful initiative to help our severely wounded service personnel. I am equally inspired by the thousands of Americans who have stepped forward to help our wounded troops and veterans," said Senator McCain.
About the Facility
The Center for the Intrepid and the Fisher Houses are designed to co-exist in a "village concept"around a common courtyard on the five-acre site. One of the facility’s key areas, the rehabilitation training and exercise center, includes a cantilevered running track; a treadwall and 21-foot climbing tower; custom-designed elevating parallel bars; and other advanced equipment to promote strength, balance, agility and aerobic conditioning. A state-of-the-art Gait Laboratory is fitted with 24 cameras on an automated truss which use infrared light to analyze human motion, with particular emphasis on amputee walking.
Other features include:
A Computer Assisted Rehabilitation Environment (CAREN), a 21-foot simulator dome with a 300-degree screen upon which a variety of "virtual realities" are displayed. Patients use atrophied muscles and relearn skills necessary to do everything from walking on different terrains to driving a car.
A prosthetics fitting and factory.
A natatorium contains a six-lane pool for pre-running activities, kayaking, water basketball and volleyball, and swimming.
A variety of comprehensive support spaces will help patients and their families maximize their potential for recovery, including social services, case management, and behavioral medicine.
About the Intrepid Foundation and the Fallen Heroes Fund
The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund is an independent 501(c)(3) organization, which continues an effort begun in 1982 by Intrepid Foundation founders Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher, offering financial assistance to the families of hundreds of military personnel lost in performance of their duty. Following September 11, 2001, and the onset of military operations in Afghanistan, the Fisher Family determined that all Americans should join in this effort to support the families of our fallen heroes. The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund (IFHF) was established as a program of the Intrepid Foundation, named after the ship and NYC-based Museum which is currently being refurbished. Since 2000, the IFHF has distributed more than $14 million to military families.