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Walter Reed, Bethesda Naval merge to form military medical center

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Corporal Jeremy Kuehl will be one of the first to call the tranquility hall barracks at Naval Medical Center Bethesda home. “I can't wait to get moved into my room,” he said.

The barracks were dedicated in a ceremony on the Bethesda Naval Medical base Thursday as part of the new Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

“So we could make sure that we're able to put wounded warriors in here and give them what they deserve, keep our covenant with America's sons and daughters coming back from war,” said Vice Admiral John Mateczun.

These are no ordinary barracks. They're more similar to 153 hotel suites. All are wheelchair accessible, outfitted with kitchens, Internet, flat-screen TVs and plenty of plugs to charge everything from computers to prosthetics.

Corporal Kuehl stepped on an improvised bomb in Afghanistan. He lost his leg, but never lost consciousness.

“I realized my leg was missing and my right leg was broken,” he said.

Kuehl credits months of care at Walter Reed Army hospital for his recovery.

“That's actually a pretty minor injury, I think. There's more serious injuries out there than me and I'm just happy to be where I'm at right now,” he said.

He bids a fond farewell to the storied more than 100-year-old facility that's closing next month and prepares to move to the new wounded-warrior barracks.

The new facility focuses on fitness, getting injured soldiers active again through basketball, aerobics and swimming, all wheelchair accessible.

The giant fitness facility and offices for all the support staff, plus the tranquility barracks and a dining hall were built for $1.1 billion.

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