Healing Heroes: Fort Sam Houston rooted deep in history
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After years of being known as Brooke Army Medical Center, the hospital underwent a historic name change to San Antonio Military Medical Center, or SAMMC, last year. The move was all part of a 2005 Base Realignment program to consolidate military medical training and services, but even though their name may be new, the home of the defense department's largest inpatient medical facility has historic roots.
Building 123 at Fort Sam Houston was once a mess hall. Now, it serves a whole new purpose as the post museum.
For acting museum director Jacqueline Davis, summing up more than 165 years of history is one tall order.
"Fort Sam Houston is a lot older than people think it is," Davis said. "We've been in town since 1845. We started out in downtown in rented buildings."
• 1870 to 1875 - City of San Antonio donates 92 acres (370,000 m2) for an Army post.
• 1879 - temporary wooden (board and batten, not log) 12-bed hospital built.
• 1886 The first permanent hospital built
• 1907 Station Hospital built to accommodate 84 beds
• 1936 Construction began for BAMC Main
• 1938 BAMC Main opens with 418 operating beds
• 1941-1945 BAMC expanded by converting barracks to hospital wards
• 1983 Design authority issued for replacement facility
• 1985 Concept design started for the new BAMC
• 1992 Construction of new BAMC starts
• 1996 New BAMC opens
• 2001 - added individually to the National Register of Historic Places
• 2005 - BRAC 2005 recommends (172 Med 10) the realignment of inpatient services and related specialty care from Wilford Hall Medical Center (WHMC) to Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC).
Click here to learn more about SAMMC’s history.
information courtesy U.S. Army
One of the rented buildings included the Alamo which served as the supply depot for the Army.
"The Army thought about moving to Austin, but again, the City of San Antonio did not want that to happen, so that's why they gave the donation of land down here," Davis said.
The city donated 92 acres of land, which became known as Government Hill.
"When we moved here, we had a wooden 12-man hospital that was replaced by a permanent 12-man hospital,” Davis said.
The hospital is now a visitor's quarters. Over the next 40 years, the post saw continual growth and expansion, but it wasn’t until after World War II when medicine began to play a much larger role at Fort Sam Houston.
"Just after the war, it became the home of the Army Medic, and all medical training in the Army was done here," Davis said.
With the change also came a change in mission, based on range space rather than function. The limited area prevented units from firing large weapons, like tanks, safely. The result was a combat unit post turned into a largely military medical training post.
Today, Fort Sam Houston is home to San Antonio Military Medical Center, formerly known as Brooke Army Medical Center. It’s the largest inpatient military medical facility for the department of defense.
"We call ourselves military city U.S.A.,” San Antonio Chamber of Commerce President Richard Perez said. “We've had a close relationship with the military for many, many years."
The post is located near the heart of San Antonio and is a vital lifeline to the city, adding up to more than $2.6 billion in economic impact.
"If we didn't have SAMMC here, if we didn't have Fort Sam Houston here, I suspect the robustness of our economy would be greatly diminished,” Perez said. “We have a tremendous amount of research going on that comes directly from the injured men and women who are coming back from harm’s way.”
One in six residents works in the bioscience and medical field.
Tuesday, we'll continue our series with a look inside a state-of-the-art rehab facility at Fort Sam Houston. See how the technology and treatment at the Center for the Intrepid is helping wounded warriors.