Volunteer at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center
Tom, a Korean War combat-wounded double amputee, and his wife, Eleanor, the U.S. Army physical therapist who treated him, “have been a quiet, yet powerful force for change and enhanced opportunities,” notes John Farley, retired federal judge, himself a combat-wounded amputee and mentee. The pattern of the Porters’ twice weekly personal visits to amputees over the past eight years is remarkable both for its consistency and its effectiveness. Thousands who have come through the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, before it closed in 2011, and the integrated multi service Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland remember the Porters with gratitude. According to exit polls, their peer visitation, and the visits of those who have followed their example, is the hospital’s most effective patient services program. Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq war amputee, can testify to the effectiveness of the Porters’ visits recalling, “The sight of Tom looking down at us, even as we struggle to comprehend our surroundings, brings a serenity that is a lifeline.” Instructors themselves, the Porters helped establish training through the Amputee Coalition of America significantly boosting the number of amputee peer visitors.