Official websites use .mil
Secure .mil websites use HTTPS
Good afternoon, everyone! It is wonderful to be with you here at National Intrepid Center of Excellence on the grounds of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center—formerly referred to as Bethesda Naval Hospital—located in the great state of Maryland.
Thank you, Captain Austin, for the introduction, for your decades of service to our nation as a uniformed medical professional, and for your leadership here at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
Governor Moore, First Lady Moore, thank you for joining us for this afternoon’s celebration, and for your leadership and partnership with our Department as we work together to support the thousands of Sailors, Marines, DON Civilians, Veterans, and their families who call Maryland home.
I would also like to extend a special welcome to the representatives from Maryland’s Congressional delegation, Montgomery County, as well as the hospitals, medical centers, and organizations who are with us today. We value our partnership with each and every one of you, and I cannot thank you all enough for what you do in support of our Sailors, Marines, and their families.
Every time I visit Walter Reed here in Bethesda, I am in awe of the incredible efforts by our dedicated team of medical professionals to ensure our Sailors, Marines, Soldiers, Airmen, Guardians, Coastguardsmen, and their families are taken care of.
Rear Admiral Via thank you for your leadership of our Navy’s medical community as the Surgeon General of the Navy, and for ensuring our team here at Walter Reed is ready to meet the needs of our Fleet, our Force, and indeed our Nation.
In the Department of the Navy, we are laser-focused on the readiness of our fleet. But readiness is more than just being able to get a ship or submarine underway, or an aircraft in the air—it is about making sure our personnel are physically, mentally, and medically ready to undertake their assigned missions.
And for over 200 years, our Navy has maintained a hospital facility in the Washington, D.C., area with the sole purpose of ensuring our Sailors, Marines and their families were ready to face the challenges of their day.
I and my own family were the direct beneficiaries of the outstanding care offered here at Bethesda, when in December 1993 our oldest son Chris was diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes.
Our world was turned upside down, but the care delivered to our son by Dr. Peter Clemons and the entire team was nothing less than extraordinary.
Chris is now 37 years old and doing well, and we will always be thankful for the support we received here during a difficult time for our family.
Now, the Navy National Medical Center—which merged with Walter Reed Army Medical Center in 2011 to form the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center—has called Bethesda home for over 80 years.
In 1938, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt selected this location we are gathered at today after visiting some 200 sites throughout D.C. and the surrounding area.
In fact, President Roosevelt sketched out the tower for the hospital—a tower that still stands today—on a piece of paper, inspired by the state capitol building in Lincoln, Nebraska. He was also present at its dedication in 1942. Ladies and gentlemen, Bethesda truly is the “President’s Hospital!”
But whether you’re the President of the United States of America, a junior enlisted Sailor or Marine, or a family member, our Navy team—along with their counterparts from other services—are committed to providing everyone who walks through these doors with world-class care and support to overcome whatever challenges they are facing.
And that is why it is so important to me to immortalize this community’s service and sacrifice by naming our next class of medical ships after our distinguished naval hospitals, with the lead ship named in this hospital’s honor—USNS Bethesda (EMS-1).
USNS Bethesda will be a floating testament to the work of the men and women who accept orders to this storied institution—including trailblazers in Navy medical history like Captain Lucy Ozarin, one of our nation’s first female military psychiatrists. She joined the Navy in 1943 and spent a career providing mental health support to service members, Veterans, and their families.
Captain Ozarin, Dr. Clemons, and all of our medical providers here today are heroes to so many Americans, and USNS Bethesda will forever be a reminder of your care and service to our nation.
This ship—as well as all of the Bethesda-class expeditionary medical ships—is designed to provide hospital-level care in austere environments, and will serve not just our Sailors and Marines, but offer assistance and comfort to our allies and partners around the globe in times of need.
They will not replace the USNS Comfort and USNS Mercy, but will supplement those ships and their missions with an expeditionary capability to be able to operate in smaller, shallower locations globally.
Most importantly, USNS Bethesda will serve as a beacon of hope and of the American people’s enduring friendship to all she and her crew support around the world.
I am also pleased to announce today that our ship sponsor for USNS Bethesda will be Mrs. Dawn Moore, the First Lady of Maryland.
First Lady Moore has dedicated her life and her career to making Maryland’s communities stronger.
Through her involvement and leadership across several non-profit organizations and foundations, she has championed economic and educational opportunities.
She has lent her voice and her experience to support a broad range of causes, ranging from the arts, education, health research and development, to Veteran-focused organizations.
According to naval tradition, a ship sponsor’s spirit and presence guides the ship and her crew throughout her time in service, serving as the bond that connects the ship to its namesake.
I have no doubt that First Lady Moore will be that bond between USNS Bethesda, her crew, and the community of medical professionals stationed here in Maryland at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
And to welcome First Lady Moore into her new role as a sponsor of a Bethesda-class ship, we are thrilled to have Mrs. Deborah Paxton, the sponsor of USNS Balboa (EMS-2), which was announced in October, in attendance this afternoon.
To the doctors, nurses, corpsmen and staff—both uniformed and civilian—here at Bethesda, I cannot thank you enough for your continued efforts to enable our Sailors, Marines, and their families to perform at their best, ensuring the health readiness and community of our Fleet and of our Force. You keep us ready, resilient, and in the fight, and I am grateful for your service.
Again, it is a true pleasure to be with you all this afternoon to celebrate the naming of USNS Bethesda, and the proud community it represents. And now, it is my honor to introduce a proud Marylander, an Army Veteran, a Rhodes Scholar, and a fellow White House Fellow alum. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the 63rd Governor of Maryland, Wes Moore!
Carlos Del Toro
08 January 2024
Subject specific information for the media
Events or announcements of note for the media
Official Navy statements
Given by Navy leadership
HASC, SASC and Congressional testimony
Google Translation Disclaimer