Artist rendering of Ft. Belvoir Wounded Warrior Center, USO
FORT BELVOIR, Va. (WUSA) - As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan begin to wind down, the USO is launching a massive, $100-million campaign to support wounded warriors and thier families.
Operation Enduring Care kicked off Monday with a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Wounded Warrior and Family Care Center at Fort Belvoir.
"This will be a place for wounded warriors and their families to be together as families away from the hospital environment," said USO President, Sloan Gibson.
The 25,000 square-foot facility will be a non-critical care center designed to bridge the gap between recovery and civilian life. It's something Master Sergeant William Spankey Gibson can speak to firsthand.
"May 16th, 2006, I was wounded during a foot patrol in Ramadi, Iraq," said Sgt. Gibson. "That started my time in recovery and it also started my time in trying to take care of wounded warriors."
Sgt. Gibson became the first above the knee amputee to return to a ground combat area of operation.
"The aftercare is the most important part. The medical care, yes, gives you life. But the longest hurdles are in your recovery time," said Sgt. Gibson.
Operation Enduring Care is the USO's largest initiative since the organization's start back in 1941.
"Back in 1941, Thomas Dewey set out to raise $18-million to fund the USO during World War Two," said Sloan Gibson. "That's very comparable to what we're doing today with our 100-million-dollar campaign to support our wounded warriors and their families."
"When you talk about all the corporate donors and the corporate individuals that are involved with USO, that's a lot of possible job opportunities for wounded warriors and their families. So that's the one thing that the USO does that no one else can do," said Sgt. Gibson.
The Fort Belvoir facility is slated to open in 2012. A similar facility is also planned at the new Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda.