Skip to comments.Pentagon Promises Walter Reed Investigation
Posted on 02/22/2007 10:31:20 AM PST by Abathar
WASHINGTON -- Caught red faced by reports in the Washington Post of squalid conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, senior Defense Department officials now say that they take full responsibility for substandard performance and have launched a full investigation into the matter.
"Several matters reported ... are serious matters. They deserve immediate attention, and they are getting immediate attention," Dr. William Winkenwerder Jr., assistant defense secretary for health affairs, said at a Pentagon briefing on Wednesday. "They are problems that need (to be) fixed and fixed immediately."
Winkenwerder emphasized to reporters that none of the reported complaints cited the medical care of the wounded servicemembers or the treatment of their families by the medical staff at Walter Reed. Instead, the issue concerned were those of how the facility housed and treated armed service members and their families in the outpatient process.
On Wednesday, Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey and Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Richard Cody visited Building 18, one of the buildings mentioned in the Post report.
Cody said he was dismayed by what he saw.
"We were absolutely disappointed in the status of the rooms and found the delays and lack of attention to detail to the building's repairs inexcusable," he said.
It didn't help that he learned about the Building 18 conditions through the Post story, he said.
Building 18 is where many soldiers discharged from the psychiatric ward are sent to recover, sometimes for months. The story described patient quarters there where parts of the walls are torn and weighted down with black mold. A staffer told reporters she brought Roach bombs to work. There was a mice infestation. And families described what they saw as a never-ending maze of bureaucratic entanglements as they sought care and support for their loved ones.
"Despite frequent visits to Walter Reed facilities, informal and formal discussions with patients and their families and the medical staff, I have never been made aware of Building 18, its condition or complaints by any of our wounded warriors over the last five years," Cody said.
"That is not an excuse by any shape or form. Clearly, we've had a breakdown in leadership and have bureaucratic medical and contractual processes bog down a speedy solution to these problems.I can assure you that the appropriate vigor and leadership is being applied to this issue, and we will correct any problems immediately," Cody said.
Several lawmakers are calling on Defense Secretary Robert Gates to address the living conditions at Walter Reed.
Democratic Sens. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland and Patty Murray of Washington urged Defense Secretary Robert Gates in a letter to launch an inspector general's investigation into what they called the "deplorable living conditions facing returning Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans."
"If conditions at Walter Reed, the crown jewel of military health care facilities, have degraded to the point where mouse traps are handed out to patients, how can we feel confident that our troops and veterans truly have the care and transition assistance they have been promised at any facility across the country?" the senators wrote.
Two other Democratic senators -- presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and freshman Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. -- said they are working on legislation to improve the care of war veterans, including measures designed to improve how they are treated as outpatients while still on active duty. The legislation would require more frequent hospital inspections, establish timelines for repairs to facilities that don't meet standards and improve access.
Oh rest assured it is very true. Military medical facilities and transition assistance programs are sadly lacking in upkeep and validity. They promised transition assistance to me and several others... all we got was discharge papers and a kick to the curb. But no High placed head will roll they never do... some poor bastard will become a scape goat and that will be that.
I pictured the spotless cells and starched pressed orange jumpers while I read this shaking my head.
Meanwhile, over at the VA healthcare facilities, staffed with third world doctors who can barely speak english or doctors who can't get a job anywhere else, things are really beginning to suck again.
They need legislation to fix this?
Monitor lizards for the bugs. They're big enough to smack the cats. The cats will be brought in for the rodent infestation. I don't what to say about the mold.
No, but it sure helps the political posturing, and it's a two-fer, Democrats can say they support the troops by introducing sham legislation and they can continue to kick the snot out of Bush for the conditions (which were many years in the making).
"The Post Commander, CSM and the C.E. guys just ended thier careers."
They'll be scape goats but someone higher up made the decision to use funds for other things.
All can be traced back the democrats lack of support for our troops impacting the funding.
Doing a Job
By Adm. Hyman G. Rickover
There is no excuse for this screw-up by the Army. None!! I want a few generals' heads served up on a platter and the sooner the better. Throw in a few Colonels and Lt. Colonels and we have the making of a real shakeup going. The head medical officer should be fired and demoted to Private E-1 for allowing this kind of crap to exist on his watch. Our military men and women deserve the best treatment they can get, and there is no excuse for that not being the case.This just really sucks and I'm ashamed of our medical officers for allowing this to happen.
I concur completely.
What? The military medical systems sucks! Who knew?
Thrust me, when I was serving I would've of put my career on the line to make sure they were repaired before they were used. Whatever it took I would of done it, I personally received flack from Commanders about lousy barracks conditions in the past.
The Post Commander, CSM and the C.E. should have of known the condition these facilities where in. If not, they are guilty of simple neglect. The funding to repair them would come from somewhere, just a matter of finding it.
To me this is nothing new. I am retired now and seeing that years of neglect catching up with some careerists. In this case the Command level investigating this situation may of honestly not known about the conditions till now.
"when I was serving I would've of put my career on the line to make sure they were repaired before they were used. "
What I'm suggesting is they had to make a decision to buy bullets and gas or fix the buildings. I'm not saying its right or appropiate.
Government health care. Anyone is surprised?
If ever there was an issue the should not be "left" or "right" this is it. Everyone right, left and center says they support our proud soldiers so it is time to put up or shut up. There is no opposing side here, so let us just do it and clean the place up!
What I want to hear from Tony Snow is not "Ask the people across the river". It should be "The President will be there this weekend with the Republican and Democratic leaders from the House and Senate and a group of contractors to begin work."
I wonder if the decision to close Walter Reed had anything to do with the decline in maintenance. I suspect not, since it appears the neglect has gone on for a while. I still have to wonder though.
Will they really spend the money now that Walter Reed is in sunset mode and they have to build new facilities in Bethesda?
They probably won't. It will be a patch up job if at all, head will be rolled and not much else will change.
Some of this is due to the fact that WRAMC is on the BRAC list and the medical treatment is moving to Bethesda. Funding for maintenance/upgrade becomes hard to justify. That said the Army deserves egg on their face for not budgeting for the facilities maintenance.
As far as being kicked to the curb, well when and where in the military did you not need someone to work the system. In this day of the internet it should be easy to organize resources amongst the mil bloggers. I don't remember that training included waiting for someone to load your weapon. You can be pissed, angry and feel deserted but in the end it's up to you and your buddies to drive on.
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