History of Operation Ward 57

Walter Reed and Ward 57

Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC) in Washington DC was the first stop for many of America’s returning wounded service members from Iraq and Afghanistan. Known as “the amputee ward”, the orthopedic Ward 57 at WRAMC housed some of the most severely injured patients for weeks or even months. The painful sacrifice of losing one or more limbs continues to be the new battle these service members and their families now fight.

Operation Ward 57

Operation Ward 57 is a direct way for individuals and companies to show their support and raise funds for these courageous men and women who have given so much and deserve more. This is a grass-roots, volunteer effort. Each person who buys a T-shirt, not only shows their support, but directly contributes to items for the Ward, patients, family members and staff.

How Operation Ward 57 Began

In December 2006, SGT Scott Cameron, an LPN was transferred from Ft. Lewis in Washington State to Ward 57 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington DC. He and  Deborah Semer made the cross-country journey and immediately visited WRAMC. Within 10 minutes of arriving, Deborah was in tears seeing all of the young amputees, and the full impact of the cost of the war on terror. Deborah picked up a copy of the Stripe military newspaper where she saw a front page picture of Condoleezza Rice and a soldier holding a black and yellow Ward 57 T-shirt. [ See Article ]

She immediately bought one to support the ward where her good friend would be working. That first batch of football themed shirts was funded by “The Angels of Mercy” and were created by Lt’s Kevin Jones & Steve Scuba to match the team spirit of the soldiers on the ward and their new “home.” Deborah returned to Seattle to attend to her commitments and would end up traveling back and forth for the next 4 years to support her friend, SGT Cameron, and Ward 57.


Kerry Carter and Ward 57

After a few months of working on Ward 57, it became clear that additional help and funding was needed to provide wanted and needed items for patient healing and care. In March of 2007, SGT Cameron asked Deborah to get some Seattle Seahawks memorabilia to boost the spirits of a depressed amputee patient from Seattle who was battling to save his remaining foot. Deborah contacted her fellow Seattle Arts Commissioner, Laura “Piece” Kelly, who was the Executive Director of former Seahawk–turned-WA-Redskin running back, Kerry Carter’s “Think Big” Foundation. Both Laura and Kerry immediately jumped in to help.

The Seattle Seahawks put together a gift package that included an NFL football personally autographed by QB Matt Hasselbeck. Deborah flew to DC with the items, where she met with Kerry and his former Stanford Quarterback, Chris Lewis to personally deliver the items to the patient. That visit made a tremendous impact on them all and had lasting beneficial effects for the patient’s spirit.

When the outpatient housing scandal hit WRAMC in February 2007 [ See Article ] and hospital morale dropped to an all-time low, Deborah, Kerry and Piece created a partnership to start a new program, Operation Ward 57 through Kerry’s Think Big Foundation to recreate the Ward 57 football T-shirts for the patients, boost morale and raise funds for items needed on Ward 57.

New Non-Profit Status!

Operation Ward 57 became a direct way for individuals and companies to show their support and raise funds through the Kerry Carter Foundation (DBA) Think Big Foundation, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, Tax ID: 20-196-2446, in partnership with Atmosphere Artist Management LLC from 2007 – July 2010. Operation Ward 57 raised thousands of dollars and greatly contributed to the betterment of Ward 57 (Orthopedic) & Ward 58 (Neurology).

In 2010 Operation Ward 57 merged with the Wellsville Veterans Project, which was renamed to Operation Ward 57, and assumed a new tax ID 61-1521946.

Walter Reed Army Medical Center Closure and Move

As part of a Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) the Department of Defense replaced Walter Reed Army Medical Center with a new Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC); the new center is housed on the grounds of the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, seven miles (11 km) from WRAMC’s original location in Washington, D.C. The medical campus is a joint facility, with staff including Army, Navy, and Air Force medical personnel. The end of operations at the WRAMC facility occurred on August 27, 2011. The historic Ward 57 (orthopedic ward) was moved, now 4E, to the new facility and continues to house our nations most severely wounded service members.  Based on the request of former patients, staff and families, Operation Ward 57 decided to keep our name to pay respects to the countless servicemen and women who received care or provided care on the ward.

In 2011, services were also expanded nationwide to care for those living away from Walter Reed. We provide services to all post 9/11 Disabled Veterans, Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines & their families.