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Veterans Hospitals Preparing to Treated Wounded from Gulf War

January 10, 1991

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Department of Veterans Affairs is preparing to provide up to 25,000 hospital beds for the wounded if war breaks out in the Persian Gulf.

The beds are being made available under legislation passed in 1982 providing for the department to supplement the number of beds available in Defense Department hospitals, public affairs officer Donna St. John said Wednesday.

At the Armed Forces Medical Regulating Office at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., Lt. Col. Nicholas Didio said the armed forces now have about 16,000 available beds. At the end of World War II, they had about 500,000.

The VA plan calls for the department’s 80 primary hospitals and 79 secondary centers to provide 9,200 beds within 24 hours after the outbreak of war, 18,300 beds within 72 hours and up to 25,000 beds within a month.

VA officials said service personnel wounded in the gulf would be stabilized in the field, then sent to hospital units in the area.

The more serious cases would be transported to Defense Department hospitals, typically medical centers on military bases in Europe or in the United States.

During the Vietnam War, 47,244 Americans were killed in action, 10,446 died in accidents or from disease and 153,329 were hospitalized with wounds.

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