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Home > June 2010 > National Intrepid Center of Excellence Officially Dedicated at National Naval Medical Center
National Intrepid Center of Excellence Officially Dedicated at National Naval Medical Center
Posted: 6/25/2010 9:36:47 AM

NICoE – the National Intrepid Center of Excellence – Built Entirely with Private Donations to be Given to the Military

Bethesda, MD (June 24, 2010) –The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund (IFHF), the National Naval Medical Center  and 500 wounded warriors and their families helped to officially dedicate the National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE), a 72,000 sq. ft., state-of-the-art research, diagnosis and treatment center for service members with diagnosed Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Psychological Health Conditions, in a ceremony that included a ribbon-cutting and military flyover here today.

National Intrepid Center of Excellence ribbon cutting ceremony.

“We are tremendously excited to open the doors to this incredible facility that will help to treat our men and women in uniform who have suffered these invisible injuries of the brain and memory,” said Arnold Fisher, Honorary Chairman of the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.  “Traumatic Brain Injury and Psychological Health Conditions – largely caused by IED explosions in Iraq and Afghanistan – are the signature wounds of our current overseas conflicts in the war on terror. As Americans, it is not charity, but rather it is our duty to care for these men and women who have fought and sacrificed for our freedom.”

Arnold Fisher addresses the attendees at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence opening ceremony.

The NICoE will provide leading edge services for wounded warriors with traumatic brain injury and/or psychological health conditions. Further, the center will conduct research, test new protocols and provide comprehensive training and education to patients, providers and families while maintaining ongoing telehealth follow-up care.

"The National Naval Medical Center is honored to share this base with such an important and worthy neighbor and welcome the NICoE staff under the leadership of Dr. James Kelly and Deputy Director Dr. Thomas Degraba," said Rear Admiral Matthew L. Nathan, Commander, Navy Medicine National Capital Area, Naval Support Activity, Bethesda.

"We're excited about the dedication ceremony and about the opportunity to occupy and use this building to provide diagnosis, clinical care and research on behalf of our service members and their families," said Dr. James Kelly, Director of the NICoE.

The NICoE was funded by the generosity of the American people through a fundraising effort mounted by the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, which provides assistance to our nation’s military heroes who have been critically injured in the performance of their duty, and their families.  The IFHF previously raised close to $75 million to support families of military personnel lost in Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and to construct the Center for the Intrepid, an advanced physical rehabilitation facility at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, which opened in 2007.

Spearheading the NICoE project is New York real estate executive Arnold Fisher, the honorary chairman of the IFHF whose family was responsible for turning the retired aircraft carrier USS Intrepid into a museum to honor and educate about our nation’s veterans.  According to Fisher, this is a much tougher project to accomplish because mental and brain injuries are not visible to the untrained eye.  Soldiers can be living with problems that no one can see.  In addition, problems such as post traumatic stress disorder can surface years later if left untreated.

The architect for the project is SmithGroup, who was also responsible for designing the Center for the Intrepid, an advanced rehabilitation center for amputee and burn victims developed by the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund in San Antonio, Texas.

“This facility accommodates TBI treatment and research programs that are available nowhere else in the world," said Phil Tobey, Senior Vice President of SmithGroup. "Every element of the building's design is acutely attuned to the multiple physical, sensory and wayfinding needs of TBI patients.”
The NICoE will feature the most advanced equipment and facilities for diagnosis and treatment. Improvements in screening, diagnosis, and treatment will be fed back out to the military and VA hospitals and medical facilities across the country.  Long-term follow-up care will also be incorporated into the system plan to ensure that, once soldiers separate from the military, they do not separate from whatever continued treatment they need.

Many thousands of military personnel may suffer from some level of TBI as a result of service in Iraq or Afghanistan.  The NICoE will be designed to provide the most advanced services for diagnostics, initial treatment plan and family education, introduction to therapeutic modalities, referral and reintegration support for service members with TBI, post traumatic stress disorder, and/or complex psychological health issues. Further, the NICoE will conduct research, test new protocols and provide comprehensive training and education to patients, providers and families while maintaining ongoing telehealth follow-up care across the country and throughout the world.  Upon completion, the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund will transfer the NICoE to the Department of Defense for staffing and ongoing operation.

  Chairman Richard Santulli (left), General James Cartwright- Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (center) and Honorary Chairman- Arnold Fisher (right) as they cut the ribbon.

Photo credit: SmithGroup and photographer Maxwell MacKenzie

About the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund
The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to supporting the men and women of the United States Armed Forces and their families.  Established in 2000, the Fund continues an effort begun in 1982 by Intrepid Museum Foundation founders Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher, who, between 1982 and 1999, made contributions of between $10,000 and $25,000 to the families of hundreds of military personnel lost in performance of their duty.  These gifts were intended to assist these families through any financial hardships that might follow the loss of their loved ones. Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher personally funded this effort until Zachary's passing in 1999, at which time members of his family took on this effort and personally funded continuing contributions to military families. Following September 11, 2001 and the onset of military operations in Afghanistan, the Fishers determined that all Americans should join in this effort to support the families of our fallen heroes. The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund was established as a program of the Intrepid Museum Foundation, and became an independent non-profit organization in 2003. Through 2005, IFHF distributed more than $14 million to military families. New legislation enacted in May 2005 has significantly increased the death gratuity and the Service Members Group Life Insurance support to these families. At that time the Fund redirected its efforts to support the catastrophically disabled military personnel and their families.  In January 2007 the Fund opened the center for the Intrepid, a $55 million rehabilitation facility for troops suffering amputation and severe burn injuries. The Center is located at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. The NICoE project is the latest effort of the Fund to support those who have served and sacrificed in defense of our nation.

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