1980's - Forging lifelong bonds

In the 1980s, Susan McNeill, a former member of the Air Force and retired lawyer, visited Walter Reed many times when both her stepmother, her father, and later herself received care there. Her father Robert McNeill, a veteran of World War II, suffered from diabetes that that led to an amputation and lengthy hospital stay. “At the time, it was in the middle of the Iran Desert Storm, and … we were engaging with a lot of [wounded veterans] in the cafeteria, in other places, because they would have wounds that required prosthetics,” as he did, Susan McNeill recalled. “He would go into his prosthetic clinic and also around the hospital, and we would eat at the same table in the cafeteria and talk to them about their experiences. That was a really important thing to just listen to them and understand what they had been through, and the continuity between someone wounded, an amputee, and him having a physical ailment that required his leg to be taken off. Age, race — as I said, it’s a bond that [they] shared and which kind of broke down those barriers.”

History Project, Susan McNeill: Full-Length Interview