Important: Be aware that cancellation requests for bullion shoulder straps must be made within 24 hours of placing an order because of the substantial time investment required for the custom hand embroidery process.

Arguably no name in the history of Army Medicine is as well-known as that of Major Walter Reed. Just five years after his death 1902 from peritonitis caused by a ruptured appendix, the Army began construction of a medical facility named in his honor: Walter Reed General Hospital. Originally able to handle just 80 patients, the hospital grew over the course of the decades to roughly 5,500 rooms and provided medical services to over 150,000 active-duty servicemembers and retired veterans. In 1951, the hospital was merged with the nearby Army Medical Center and renamed the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, or WRAMC. When the WRACM was combined with the National Naval Medical Center at Bethesda in Maryland, the new tri-service facility still retained the name of the hero of Army Medicine: the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center

It’s common knowledge that the reason for Reed’s accolades was the role he played in helping eliminate Yellow Fever as a threat to both Soldiers and civilians. But what many do not about is the work that earned him the attention of his superiors in Army Medicine who subsequently gave him the authority to test theories that were, at the time, less than enthusiastically received.

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After being commissioned as Assistant Surgeon in 1876, Reed spent some sixteen years at outposts in the American West, where he observed the incredible toll that disease epidemics took on Native Americans; his interest in disease prevention led him to complete courses in bacteriology and pathology held by internationally acclaimed Johns Hopkins University. After reassignment on the East coast, Reed garnered attention when he proved that outbreaks of Yellow Fever among troops stationed near the Potomac River were not caused by pathogens in the water; instead, he proved that Soldiers who took nighttime walks in swampy areas near the river often caught the disease, while those who avoided those areas remained uninfected.

Perhaps because of Reed’s discovery regarding Yellow Fever in the Potomac area, he was appointed to head up a Yellow Fever Commission in 1900 tasked with finding the disease’s cause and a  means of prevention. Picking up on a theory postulated nearly 20 years earlier by Cuban physician Carlos Juan Finlay,  Reed suspected that mosquitoes were the carriers. But two members of the commission, bacteriologist Dr. Jesse Lazear and James Carroll, pooh-poohed Reed’s theory—so much so that they allowed themselves to be bitten by infected mosquitos provided by Finlay.

Carroll became quite sick, Lazear died from the disease, and Reed was authorized to carry out controlled research that conclusively proved that the disease was spread by the bite of the Aedes aegypti mosquito. During the experiments, he also introduced important concepts that would guide the development of medical testing, including informed consent.

Sadly, Reed died shortly after his triumphant breakthrough, but his concern for the well-being of his fellow man lives on in the facility that provides top-notch medical care for members of our nation’s armed forces.

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