SAN ANTONIO – Brittney Griner’s first stop after returning to the United States will not be her home in Phoenix, but the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas.
An official briefed on the plans said a plane transporting Ms Griner from the United Arab Emirates would take her to the US Army’s Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio; It was supposed to land Thursday night.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to discuss the plans.
The Brooke Army Medical Center, located on the base, has long been a place where the U.S. government has sent people who need debriefing or who need sensitive medical care after undergoing an ordeal like Ms. Griner’s to have. The hospital treats both civilians and military personnel who have survived torture or other trauma.
In February, Ms Griner, a popular WNBA basketball player, was arrested at a Moscow airport after customs officials said they found vape cartridges containing hash oil in her luggage. Her arrest came shortly before Russia invaded Ukraine and her case became embroiled with the war and deteriorating relations between Washington and Moscow.
She was found guilty of drug smuggling and taken to one of Russia’s most notorious prisons, where ex-prisoners are subjected to cruel treatment including torture, beatings and forced labour.
It remains unclear what injuries Ms. Griner may have sustained during her detention in Russia. But the San Antonio medical center, which has about 450 beds and about 8,000 staff, has the resources to help a patient like Ms. Griner. It has consistently ranked first among its better-known peers, such as the Walter Reed National Army Medical Center in Washington DC
A small group of reporters and photographers gathered outside the center for their arrival on Thursday evening.
Earlier this year, a former Texas Marine who, like Ms. Griner, was released from a Russian prison, was also examined at the San Antonio center. Trevor Reed was released after a similar prison swap also negotiated by the Biden administration. His family had said that at the time he was showing symptoms of tuberculosis and was coughing up blood.
According to the center’s website, since 2001 the center has played an important role in the medical care of the wounded in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It also houses a rehabilitation facility called the Center for the Intrepid, which specializes in caring for patients who have sustained serious injuries such as burns or amputations.
It’s where one of the few survivors of the Uvalde massacre, Arnulfo Reyes, a fourth grade teacher, was taken after suffering two gunshot wounds to his arm and back. Mr. Reyes is now at home recovering from his injuries.
The center’s trauma department cares for more than 4,000 military and civilian trauma patients and performs more than 80,000 emergency visits annually, according to the center’s website. It also serves as a training ground for US Army and US Air Force medical students.