Monday, March 05, 2007


Scapegoats Named; Heads Begin to Roll; Where's Kiley's?
Hospital Officials Knew of Neglect
Complaints About Walter Reed Were Voiced for Years
By Anne Hull and Dana PriestWashington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, March 1, 2007; Page A01

Top officials at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, including the Army's surgeon general, have heard complaints about outpatient neglect from family members, veterans groups and members of Congress for more than three years.

A procession of Pentagon and Walter Reed officials expressed surprise last week about the living conditions and bureaucratic nightmares faced by wounded soldiers staying at the D.C. medical facility. But as far back as 2003, the commander of Walter Reed, Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley, who is now the Army's top medical officer, was told that soldiers who were wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan were languishing and lost on the grounds, according to interviews.

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Behind the gates of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center on Butternut Street, the stately homes of Commander George W. Weightman and top Army medical officer Kevin C. Kiley stand in stark contrast to Building 18, which is just across Georgia Avenue. (Photos By Michael Williamson -- The Washington Post)
The Other Walter Reed [ I daresay that there was no holes in the ceilings, mold, roaches or rats in THEIR quarters. WA]

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Walter Reed Hearing to Put Spotlight on Kiley's Leadership
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Steve Robinson, director of veterans affairs at Veterans for America, said he ran into Kiley in the foyer of the command headquarters at Walter Reed shortly after the Iraq war began and told him that "there are people in the barracks who are drinking themselves to death and people who are sharing drugs and people not getting the care they need."

"I met guys who weren't going to appointments because the hospital didn't even know they were there," Robinson said. Kiley told him to speak to a sergeant major, a top enlisted officer.
A recent Washington Post series detailed conditions at Walter Reed, including those at Building 18, a dingy former hotel on Georgia Avenue where the wounded were housed among mice, mold, rot and cockroaches.

Kiley lives across the street from Building 18. From his quarters, he can see the scrappy building and busy traffic the soldiers must cross to get to the 113-acre post. At a news conference last week, Kiley, who declined several requests for interviews for this article, said that the problems of Building 18 "weren't serious and there weren't a lot of them." He also said they were not "emblematic of a process of Walter Reed that has abandoned soldiers and their families."

But according to interviews, Kiley, his successive commanders at Walter Reed and various top noncommissioned officers in charge of soldiers' lives have heard a stream of complaints about outpatient treatment over the past several years. The complaints have surfaced at town hall meetings for staff and soldiers, at commanders' "sensing sessions" in which soldiers or officers are encouraged to speak freely, and in several inspector general's reports detailing building conditions, safety issues and other matters.

Retired Maj. Gen. Kenneth L. Farmer Jr., who commanded Walter Reed for two years until last August, said that he was aware of outpatient problems and that there were "ongoing reviews and discussions" about how to fix them when he left. He said he shared many of those issues with Kiley, his immediate commander. Last summer when he turned over command to Maj. Gen. George W. Weightman, Farmer said, "there were a variety of things we identified as opportunities for continued improvement."

In 2004, Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R-Fla.) and his wife stopped visiting the wounded at Walter Reed out of frustration. Young said he voiced concerns to commanders over troubling incidents he witnessed but was rebuffed or ignored. "When Bev or I would bring problems to the attention of authorities of Walter Reed, we were made to feel very uncomfortable," said Young, who began visiting the wounded recuperating at other facilities.

Beverly Young said she complained to Kiley several times. She once visited a soldier who was lying in urine on his mattress pad in the hospital. When a nurse ignored her, Young said, "I went flying down to Kevin Kiley's office again, and got nowhere. He has skirted this stuff for five years and blamed everyone else."

Young said that even after Kiley left Walter Reed to become the Army's surgeon general, "if anything could have been done to correct problems, he could have done it."
Soldiers and family members say their complaints have been ignored by commanders at many levels.

More than a year ago, Chief Warrant Officer Jayson Kendrick, an outpatient, attended a sensing session, the Army's version of a town hall meeting where concerns are raised in front of the chain of command. Kendrick spoke about the deterioration and crowded conditions of the outpatient administrative building, which had secondhand computers and office furniture shoved into cubicles, creating chaos for family members. An inspector general attending the meeting "chuckled and said, 'What do you want, pool tables and Ping-Pong tables in there?' " Kendrick recalled.
Army officials have been at other meetings in which outpatient problems were detailed.

On Feb. 17, 2005, Kiley sat in a congressional hearing room as Sgt. 1st Class John Allen, injured in Afghanistan in 2002, described what he called a "dysfunctional system" at Walter Reed in which "soldiers go months without pay, nowhere to live, their medical appointments canceled." Allen added: "The result is a massive stress and mental pain causing further harm. It would be very easy to correct the situation if the command element climate supported it. The command staff at Walter Reed needs to show their care."

In 2006, Joe Wilson, a clinical social worker in the department of psychiatry, briefed several colonels at Walter Reed about problems and steps that could be taken to improve living conditions at Building 18. Last March, he also shared the findings of a survey his department had conducted.

It found that 75 percent of outpatients said their experience at Walter Reed had been "stressful" and that there was a "significant population of unsatisfied, frustrated, disenfranchised patients." Military commanders played down the findings.
"These people knew about it," Wilson said. "The bottom line is, people knew about it but the culture of the Army didn't allow it to be addressed."

Last October, Joyce Rumsfeld, the wife of then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, was taken to Walter Reed by a friend concerned about outpatient treatment. She attended a weekly meeting, called Girls Time Out, at which wives, girlfriends and mothers of soldiers exchange stories and offer support.

According to three people who attended the gathering, Rumsfeld listened quietly. Some of the women did not know who she was. At the end of the meeting, Rumsfeld asked one of the staff members whether she thought that the soldiers her husband was meeting on his visits had been handpicked to paint a rosy picture of their time there. The answer was yes.

When Walter Reed officials found out that Rumsfeld had visited, they told the friend who brought her -- a woman who had volunteered there many times -- that she was no longer welcome on the grounds.

Last week, the Army relieved of duty several low-ranking soldiers who managed outpatients. This week, in a move that some soldiers viewed as reprisal for speaking to the media, the wounded troops were told that early-morning room inspections would be held and that further contact with reporters is prohibited.

Yesterday, Walter Reed received an unscheduled inspection by a hospital accreditation agency. Members of the Joint Commission, formerly the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, began a two-day visit "for cause" to examine discharge practices that have allowed soldiers to go missing or unaccounted for after they are released from the hospital.
More on
Major Changes Planned For Walter Reed
Health Highlights: March 3, 2007
A Powerful Story at Walter Reed
Army Secretary Resigns in Scandal's Wake
Gates Sends Stern Message With Firing


Army Fires Commander of Walter Reed
Former Chief, Also Criticized in Troop-Care Scandal, Temporarily Takes Over
By Steve Vogel and William BraniginWashington Post Staff WritersFriday, March 2, 2007; Page A01
The commander of Walter Reed Army Medical Center was fired yesterday after the Army said it had lost trust and confidence in his leadership in the wake of a scandal over outpatient treatment of wounded troops at the Northwest Washington hospital complex.

Army Maj. Gen. George W. Weightman, who assumed command of Walter Reed in August, will be temporarily replaced by Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley. But the appointment of Kiley, who had earlier been the facility's commander, surprised some Defense Department officials because soldiers, their families and veterans' advocates have complained that he had long been aware of problems at Walter Reed and did nothing to improve its outpatient care.

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Maj. Gen. George W. Weightman assumed command in August. (By Linda Davidson -- The Washington Post)

The action came 10 days after a Washington Post series exposed the squalid living conditions for some outpatient soldiers at Walter Reed and bureaucratic problems that prevented many from getting the care they need.

"The care and welfare of our wounded men and women in uniform demand the highest standard of excellence and commitment that we can muster as a government," Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said in a statement. "When this standard is not met, I will insist on swift and direct corrective action and, where appropriate, accountability up the chain of command."

A senior Defense Department official said Gates had demanded quick action to show that the Pentagon was serious about improvements at Walter Reed. But the official said that Gates was not involved in the appointment of Kiley.

Now surgeon general of the Army and commander of the U.S. Army Medical Command, Kiley will take over temporarily as commander of Walter Reed "until a general officer is selected for this important leadership position," the Army said in a statement.

Kiley was commander at Walter Reed until 2004. He has called the Post stories a "one-sided representation" of conditions at the facility. "While we have some issues here, this is not a horrific, catastrophic failure at Walter Reed," he said.

Weightman, an easygoing, open Army leader, is well respected in the military medical community and well liked among the staff at Walter Reed. He took command in August and instituted some changes to improve outpatient care. The defense official said his firing and replacement by Kiley are likely to be demoralizing to the staff at the medical center.

The Army is already cracking down on some staff members after the reports of poor care. A number of soldiers have been reassigned from their duties at Walter Reed, including a captain and several sergeants, according to an Army official. More than 100 soldiers will arrive at Walter Reed later this month to permanently reinforce the medical brigade responsible for overseeing outpatient care.

Yesterday, an independent review panel appointed by Gates to investigate outpatient care at Walter Reed and the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda held its first meeting at the Pentagon.

The group will "identify any critical shortcomings and opportunities to improve the rehabilitative care, administrative processes, and quality of life for injured and sick members of the armed forces" at Walter Reed and -- though there have been no complaints of poor care there -- at the Navy hospital, said William Winkenwerder Jr., assistant secretary of defense for health affairs.

The Army said the decision to relieve Weightman was made Wednesday after several days of consideration. Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey consulted with Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, and Gen. Richard A. Cody, the vice chief of staff, according to Paul Boyce, an Army spokesman.

"Maj. Gen. Weightman was informed . . . that the senior Army leadership had lost trust and confidence in the commander's leadership abilities to address needed solutions for soldier-outpatient care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center," the Army statement said.
Weightman, a West Point graduate, served with the 82nd Airborne Division during the invasion of Panama and the Persian Gulf War. During the early stages of the Iraq war, he served as command surgeon for coalition land forces. As commander of Walter Reed, Weightman also headed the North Atlantic Regional Medical Command.

Last Friday, Weightman published an open letter in the hospital newspaper responding to the Post series, "The Other Walter Reed," disputing its criticisms.

"First and foremost, I want to assure all the staff that I do not believe that there is the 'other' Walter Reed," Weightman wrote. "I firmly believe that we deliver the same level of world-class healthcare to all our patients and their families, regardless of whether they are inpatients or outpatients."

Shortly after noon yesterday, Weightman sent out an e-mail to the entire Walter Reed garrison announcing his relief. "I am confident that you will continue to do a great job . . .," he wrote. "You're a great team and I have been honored to work with you."

Staff writer Dana Priest contributed to this report.

Army Secretary Is Ousted in Furor Over Hospital Care

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Published: March 3, 2007

WASHINGTON, March 2 — Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey was forced to resign Friday over the handling of revelations that wounded soldiers were receiving shabby and slow treatment at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

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Francis J. Harvey, secretary of the Army, during a Pentagon briefing in January 2006.

Audio Back Story With The Times's David S. Cloud (mp3)
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Maj. Gen. George W. Weightman

Even as the grim-faced defense secretary, Robert M. Gates, announced Mr. Harvey’s dismissal, the Army put a new general in charge of the hospital, the second change of command in two days, and a clear signal that Mr. Gates wanted a clean break from the status quo.

Earlier, the White House had announced that President Bush would appoint a bipartisan panel to examine the medical treatment provided to wounded service members, both by the Defense Department and by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“I am disappointed that some in the Army have not adequately appreciated the seriousness of the situation,” Mr. Gates told reporters. “Some have shown too much defensiveness and have not shown enough focus on digging into and addressing the problems.”

A senior Pentagon official said Mr. Gates had demanded Mr. Harvey’s resignation because he was displeased that Mr. Harvey on Thursday, in dismissing the commander of Walter Reed, temporarily named Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley to take command. General Kiley, the Army’s top medical officer, had earlier appeared to play down the problems at Walter Reed, where he was in command until 2004.

Mr. Gates’s aggressiveness in addressing the problem has surprised many Pentagon officials who are still getting used to his style more than two months into his service.

Ordered by Mr. Gates to get an acceptable new commander in place by the end of the day, the Army announced late Friday that Maj. Gen. Eric B. Schoomaker, a veteran Army doctor and the brother of the current Army chief of staff, would take over command at Walter Reed.

In his weekly radio address, taped on Friday for broadcast on Saturday morning, Mr. Bush said, “This is unacceptable to me, it is unacceptable to our country, and it’s not going to continue.” The White House released a transcript without the usual embargo on its publication.

White House officials said the review ordered by Mr. Bush would examine soldiers’ medical treatment starting when they were wounded, as they were moved to Defense Department hospitals and as they received care in V.A. facilities after leaving the armed services.

The White House commission seemed to overlap in at least some respects with a separate panel announced by Mr. Gates last week that he said had authority to examine living conditions, problems getting prompt care and any other issues at Walter Reed and other military-run hospitals the panel chose to examine.

Officials said the White House commission was likely to undertake a broader review and take longer with its investigation than the Pentagon panel, which has a 45-day deadline. Mr. Bush plans to name his commission’s members next week.

House and Senate committees, too, are planning hearings on the matter next week. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform said Friday that it was issuing a subpoena to Maj. Gen. George W. Weightman, who had been in command of the hospital since last August before his firing on Thursday. The panel has scheduled a hearing at Walter Reed on Monday.

The committee also made public an internal hospital memorandum written last September that warned that an Army decision to privatize support services at Walter Reed was causing an exodus of experienced career personnel and putting patient care “at risk of mission failure.”

The scandal at Walter Reed is particularly embarrassing to the administration because many top officials have visited injured troops there. Although Mr. Bush has visited Walter Reed several times, his spokesman, Tony Snow, said last month that the president had learned about the situation from the newspaper and that he had given orders to “find out what the problem is and fix it.”

Army officials have defended the treatment provided to most patients at Walter Reed, especially the most serious cases, those admitted to inpatient wards on its campus a few miles from the center of Washington.

But the administration has been unable to explain why adequate improvements at Walter Reed’s nearby satellite facilities used to house outpatients were not made before the shoddy conditions were disclosed last month in a series of articles in The Washington Post. And the furor is unlikely to abate soon.

Mr. Harvey, the senior civilian official overseeing the Army, joined the Pentagon in 2004 after a long career as an engineer working mainly for defense contractors. He was an executive with the Westinghouse Corporation from 1969 to 1997.

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In a speech last year, he said improved efficiency could reduce both the federal work force and the number of contractors.

But the House committee leaders said that at Walter Reed, hiring a contractor had resulted in a steep decline in the number of support personnel like maintenance workers to fewer than 60 last month, from 300 in early 2006.

An Army spokesman, Paul Boyce, said that “didn’t help” efforts over the last year to improve conditions for patients in Building 18, the dilapidated 50-room former hotel across the street from Walter Reed where outpatients are housed. Before rushed renovations last month, the building had moldy walls, stained carpets and infestations of rats.

Walter Reed officials have also acknowledged that the large number of wounded from Iraq and Afghanistan, currently around 650 patients and outpatients, has taxed doctors, nurses and other care providers and forced them to rely more heavily on overflow facilities.

General Kiley, commander of Walter Reed from 2002 to 2004, left when he was appointed Army surgeon general. On a tour of the outpatient facilities for reporters last month, he took issue with the way the conditions were portrayed in some accounts.

“While we have some issues here, this is not a horrific, catastrophic failure at Walter Reed,” he said. “I mean these are not good, but you saw rooms that look perfectly acceptable, you saw the day rooms with the pool tables and plasma screen TVs, and we’re working every day to make those rooms better.”

But those comments and others did not please Mr. Gates, aides said. Even though he issued a statement Thursday endorsing the decision to remove General Weightman, he was not aware that the Army had chosen General Kiley to be the acting commander, an appointment that lasted just one day.

“It could have been almost anybody but Kiley,” said a senior Pentagon official, who was granted anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss Mr. Gates’s thinking. Referring to General Kiley’s service as the hospital commander, he added: “Some of this may well have developed and even started on his watch. And his comments also demonstrated a certain insensitivity.”

General Schoomaker, 58, the new commander, had been commander of the Army’s Medical Research and Material Command at Fort Detrick, Md. His brother, Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, who is stepping down next month, was not involved in the decision to select him, the senior Pentagon official said.

In a visit to the outpatient facility last month before it was fixed up, Mr. Harvey called the conditions inexcusable. But he went on to place the blame for the situation on noncommissioned officers.

“We had some N.C.O.’s who weren’t doing their job, period,” Mr. Harvey said



A Step in the Right Direction

A step in the right direction
Posted in Army, Bush Administration, GOP, Government, Military, Medical at 4:47 pm by LeisureGuy
The general in charge of Walter Reed Army Medical Center has been fired (or, in Army parlance, “relieved of his command”).

Army officials informed Maj. Gen. George W. Weightman this morning that the nation’s oldest military service had “lost trust and confidence in the commander’s leadership abilities to address needed solutions for soldier-outpatient care” at the hospital. Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey made the decision yesterday, Army officials said.

However, Weightman has been at the post for only six months, and he’s certainly not the main problem. Weightman will be replaced by the head of U.S. Army Medical Command, Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley, for now. Kiley seems to be a much worse problem.

For example:
In a news conference last week, Kiley, now the Army’s surgeon general, said the problems found in the building “weren’t serious and there weren’t a lot of them.”

That view was strongly contradicted by Gates, who later last week called conditions at building 18 “unacceptable.” Gates said he will hold the responsible officials accountable after he receives the results of a 45-day review, which he said will be released to Congress and the public.
“We take this very seriously,” a Pentagon spokeswoman told ABC News today.

Some specific instances of Kiley’s deliberate neglect of the problem:
Among those who brought the problems to the attention of Kiley and other Walter Reed and military officials, according to the Post:
Steve Robinson, director of veterans affairs at Veterans for America, said he told Kiley in 2003 that “there are people in the barracks who are drinking themselves to death and people who are sharing drugs and not getting the care they need.” Some missed appointments because Walter Reed officials had lost track of them, Robinson said.

Retired Maj. Gen. Kenneth L. Farmer Jr., who commanded Walter Reed for two years before leaving in August, said he was aware of outpatient problems and reported them both to his commander, Kiley, and to his successor, Maj. Gen. George W. Weightman.

Rep. Bill Young, R-Fla., stopped visiting Walter Reed after voicing his complaints. His wife, Beverly, complained to Kiley that she visited a soldier lying in urine on his mattress. “I went flying down to Kevin Kiley’s office again and got nowhere,” she told the paper. “He has skirted this stuff for five years and blamed everyone else.”

Joe Wilson, a clinical social worker in the psychiatry department, briefed colonels at the hospital about a survey that found 75 percent of outpatients called their experience there “stressful” and many were “unsatisfied, frustrated, disenfranchised.”

Joyce Rumsfeld, wife of then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, asked a staffer during a visit if her husband was seeing only patients handpicked to show the hospital’s good side and was told yes.

In addition to the Defense Department review, the hospital is now in the second day of a two-day inspection by the Joint Commission, a hospital accreditation agency formerly known as the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations.

“These are serious wounds, and these folks aren’t getting the care they need at Walter Reed, right in the backyard of the capital,” former Lt. Paul Rieckhoff, a veteran and founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, told CNN. “I think there are a lot of people who work very hard and care very deeply in Walter Reed and also in the [Veterans Administration] hospitals around the country. But what we consistently hear is that they’re under-resourced.”


Re.Slaughter : Fire Head of Walter Reed

Friday, March 02, 2007

Rep. Slaughter: Fire head of Walter Reed now by
John Aravosis (DC)
Chairwoman of the House Rules Committee, Louise Slaughter (D-NY), has just written to the Secretary of Defense calling on him to fire the temporary head of Walter Reed, Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley. Kiley headed Walter Reed for two years while our injured veterans suffered, with his knowledge, and he is the man who GOP Congressman Bill Young's wife says she told about a soldier sleeping in his own urine - Kiley reportedly didn't do a thing about it.


Army's Top Medical Officer Grilled by Angry Lawmakers,0,3040296.story?coll=bal-nationworld-headlines

Surgeon General Kiley taken to task over care of injured soldiers

Army's top medical officer grilled by angry lawmakers
Surgeon General Kiley is taken to task over care of injured soldiers
By Adam Schreck
Originally published March 8, 2007
WASHINGTON // On frequent trips to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Rep. C.W. Bill Young said he and his wife found wounded soldiers who didn't have adequate clothes, even one doing his rehabilitation in the bloody boots he had on when he was injured.
One soldier, ashamed that his mattress was soaked with urine, tried to turn Young's wife away, the Florida Republican recalled yesterday.

Another with a serious brain injury fell out of bed and hit his head three times before someone was assigned to make sure it didn't happen again.
On the third day of hearings on Walter Reed, Young told Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley, the Army's top medical officer, and other brass that he repeatedly took his concerns to officials. He didn't raise them in public, he said, because he didn't want to undermine patients' confidence or the military.
But now he and other lawmakers want answers.
'Failing our soldiers' And there's no one they hold more accountable than Kiley, who led the military's premier hospital from 2002 to 2004.
"While we have dedicated people, they're working in a system that is failing our soldiers," said Sen. Patty Murray, a Washington Democrat, at the first of two hearings in which Kiley testified yesterday.
Calling Walter Reed "just the tip of the iceberg," Murray detailed fresh reports of poor treatment at a military hospital in Washington state.
"General Kiley, you're in charge of this system. I hold you accountable," she said. "I'm here today because I want answers."
Concerns about Walter Reed came to light after articles in The Washington Post that pointed to gaps in treatment and poor conditions in some facilities on the sprawling hospital campus, in particular an outpatient residential facility known as Building 18.
Kiley, who is the Army surgeon general, has told lawmakers that he was unaware of specific problems in Building 18. He said in response to questions yesterday that he had become aware of other problems at the hospital during and after his tenure there and had acted to remedy them.
But, he acknowledged, he had not done enough.
"I did fail," Kiley said. "I should have been more engaged."
In testimony this week, Kiley has sought to reassure lawmakers that physical problems such as mold growth and broken fixtures are being addressed. The last patient in Building 18 was scheduled to move out last night, he said.
Meanwhile, Kiley said, administrators are adding staff and reworking procedures to help ease the transition from hospital to outpatient care, where most of the problems have been.
The scandal has cost two high-ranking officials their jobs - the Army secretary and the hospital commander. Some lawmakers questioned Kiley's leadership style yesterday and asked whether he, too, should be relieved of his command.
At the White House, former Sen. Bob Dole, a Kansas Republican, and former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna E. Shalala, who were appointed Tuesday to lead a commission to study military and veteran medical care, met with President Bush.
"He made it very clear that if one soldier doesn't get high-quality treatment and isn't transitioned back into civilian life or back into the military, that's unacceptable," Shalala said, adding that she could sense the president's "anger and his anxiousness that we move as quickly as possible."
Dole said the president planned to play an active role in the commission's work.
Serious matters After the meeting, Bush said, "Any report of medical neglect will be taken seriously by this administration [and], I'm confident, by the Congress, and we will address problems quickly."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, expressed support yesterday for the commission. But they called on Bush to consult Congress on the committee's makeup and urged the president to include troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and their family members on the commission.
Meanwhile, the investigation on Capitol Hill will continue.
As he closed a House hearing at which Kiley faced heated questioning, Rep. John P. Murtha, a Pennsylvania Democrat, assured fellow lawmakers, "This is not the end of the story."
Adam Schreck writes for the Los Angeles Times.


Bush and Rumsfield Broke the Army; Now They're Breaking the Lives of Soldiers.

excerpted from:

Waxman to Force Walter Reed Ex-Chief to Talk About Problems, Contract
March 02, 2007 3:42 PM
Justin Rood and Anna Schecter Report:
A powerful Democratic congressman is challenging the Pentagon, which is attempting to block the former chief of Walter Reed Army Medical Center from testifying before Congress next week.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Henry Waxman, D-Calif., wants to ask Maj. Gen. George W. Weightman about a contract to manage the medical center awarded to a company that had documented troubles fulfilling a government contract to deliver ice to victims of Hurricane Katrina.
The Pentagon has refused to allow Weightman to testify. Waxman's staff has confirmed the congressman planned to issue his first subpoena as a committee chairman this session to legally compel Weightman's testimony if the Pentagon did not relent.
According to a letter from Waxman to Weightman posted today on the committee's Web site, the chairman believes the Walter Reed contract may have pushed dozens of health care workers to leave jobs at the troubled medical center, which he says in turn threatened the quality of care for hundreds of military personnel receiving treatment there.
Weightman had been slated to testify before Congress on Monday. The Army has tried to withdraw him from the hearing. Waxman's office confirmed the congressman plans to force the officer to appear by issuing a subpoena for his testimony.
Click Here for Full Blotter Coverage.
The Army did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the matter. A call to Weightman's home went unanswered.
In the letter, Waxman charged that the Army used an unusual process to award a five-year, $120 million contract to manage the center to a company owned by a former executive of Halliburton, the scandal-prone government contractor once operated by Vice President Dick Cheney.
In 2004, the Army determined that Walter Reed's federal employees could operate the medical center more efficiently than IAP Worldwide Services, which is operated by the former Halliburton executive, Al Neffgen, Waxman wrote. After IAP protested, the Army "unilaterally" increased the employees' estimated costs by $7 million, making IAP appear cheaper, Waxman said. Rules barred Walter Reed employees from appealing the decision, Waxman wrote, and in January 2006 the Army gave the contract to IAP.
According to an internal memo written by a senior Walter Reed administrator and obtained by Waxman, the decision to outsource to IAP led the center's skilled personnel to leave Walter Reed "in droves," fearing they would be laid off when the contractor took over. In the last year, Waxman found, over 250 of 300 government employees left the center. The lack of staffing put patient care "at risk of mission failure," warned an internal Army memo obtained by the congressman.
Some of the problems recently revealed at Walter Reed "may be attributable to a lack of skilled government technicians on staff," Waxman wrote in the letter.
In a prepared statement, IAP spokeswoman Arlene Mellinger said that currently "there are no critical shortages of employees or skills in any area" of Walter Reed. On Feb. 4, the first day of its contract, 290 IAP employees were at the center, she said; that number is now 305. IAP "looks forward to applying its experience and knowledge of facility maintenance" to support Walter Reed, the statement read.
A message left at the home number belonging to IAP head Al Neffgen was not immediately returned.
Update: Since this report was published, the Pentagon has reversed its position and is allowing Weightman to testify before Waxman's panel on Monday. An earlier version of this post stated Waxman had issued a subpoena to compel Weightman's testimony; in fact, Waxman had threatened to do so, but the Pentagon changed its stance before such a subpoena was issued.
» Click Here for More of the Brian Ross Page
March 2, 2007 Permalink User Comments (25)
User Comments
General Weightman may have "ministerial responsibility" but he has only been in his post since August of 2006. Is he the fall guy for a more fundamental problem than General Weightman's leadership
Posted by: Bill Schecter Mar 2, 2007 4:57:04 PM
It is simply appalling to me that the military establishment and this administration currently in power in this great County of ours can spend billions of dollars to bomb and destroy a former functioning country back to the middle ages, but they resist and make excuses to spend billions of dollars to provide sorely needed and sufficient medical care to those brave men and women who are sacrificing their lives at the direction of the President. There has to be some accountability in this country by the individuals in charge and we need to cease giving contracts to anyone associated with Halliburton. I don't know about anyone else, but I consider this inexcusable and those who knew about this should be put in prison, not just allowed to retire from the military and collect a pension on our tax dollars. THIS IS A DISGRACE and they should all be ashamed.
Posted by: Kathy Mar 2, 2007 5:08:18 PM
Of course they don't want him to testify, they just fired him for problems that occured long before he took the job. They are afraid he will tell the truth now that he was used as a scapegoat. Congressman Waxman is on the right track. I'm sure if they looked overall into the Army Contracting out policies they would find many irregularities. By the way, Gen. Kiley should resign as the Walter Reed problems all started while he was the Commander.
Posted by: Pyrofyter Mar 2, 2007 5:26:13 PM
The testimony shouldn't be allowed to be blocked. Blocking action indicates knowledge of guilt. Everyone involved should be in prison.
Posted by: jj Mar 2, 2007 10:34:49 PM
Waxman is on the right track. Next week is going to be soooooooo interesting.
Posted by: DA Mar 3, 2007 10:55:33 AM
About time there is some investigations going on in this country. Go getem Waxman!!!
Posted by: Larry Mar 3, 2007 3:15:19 PM
Finally some investigations from Congress. About time!
Posted by: Hooserdaddy Mar 3, 2007 3:29:04 PM
Democrats are for people, while Republicans are for profit. I am not surprized they are privatizing the care for wounded warriors, just dissapointed.
Posted by: Oilfieldguy Mar 3, 2007 4:07:58 PM
"...the Army used an unusual process to award a five-year, $120 million contract to manage the center to a company owned by a former executive of Halliburton, the scandal-prone government contractor once operated by Vice President Dick Cheney."
That about says it all. Cheney strikes again. When are these evil creeps Bush and Cheney going to be impeached and left to rot in prison...where they belong?
America is waiting.
Posted by: Jack Mar 3, 2007 5:31:46 PM
Kiley should be the guy testifying before Congress. I believe he was at Walter Reed when they awarded the contract in January 2006. He should also be demoted for denying the problems existed. I feel that was a lie. All it would have taken is unannounced & unscheduled visits with a clipboard and a large box of #2 pencils.
This article pretty much tells us where the disconnect is at Walter Reed. How do you lose 250 of 300 employees, immediately replace them with contractors, and immediately be efficient and up to speed?
And, as far as the troops currently at Walter Reed, I understand there has been a gag order and troops have been ordered to be up and have their area clean by 6am. I certainly hope that has been rescinded. These are wounded and sick military people, not basic trainees.
Posted by: Dave Mar 3, 2007 11:39:37 PM
There are many errors in this one story.
The contract was for base ops and not for medical care. The government workers leaving were not healthcare workers but people in charge of building maintenance.
IAP is a competitor to Halliburton/KBR. Trying to connect Walter Reed to Halliburton because the COO of IAP used to work for Halliburton is specious.
The memo was written by the garrison commander who worked for Installation Management Command and did not work for Medical Command.
If you look at, the A-76 public employee's bid was late and was incomplete. Why should the government award the contract of the government employee when then missed their deadline.
Also, contracting base ops since the 1980's. Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri has been outcoursed since 1985. Fort Belvoir in the DC area was contracted out during the Clinton Administration.
Posted by: superdestroyer Mar 4, 2007 8:46:17 AM
You better watch it on C Span, because you'll be lucky if you get a 60 second bite on the MSM.
Posted by: T Geg Mar 4, 2007 11:17:26 AM
can someone tell me what country are we living in where we treat our young heroes like secondary citizen
Posted by: howard Mar 4, 2007 1:16:05 PM
The Dept. of Veterans Affairs is in grave condition regardless of what the politicians are trying to get you to believe.In fact the medical system are geared to deny followup on outpatients to save money and lower disability percentage payments to our Veterans. All claims should be treated with yearly reviews and monthly follow-up for active claims. A person should not be held do to a lack of medical evidence which is denied yearly review, year after year due to a lack of neurosurgeons to make the examinations when., orthopedic surgeons would be even more appropriate to examine the patient. Psych-Social is just another label for "let's see who we can misrepresent next at your V.A.". Dont allow doctors to continue to deny patients needed services because the patient has a lower percentage rating., it is tantamount to terrorism.
Posted by: The Hon. Mark K. Shaver Mar 4, 2007 7:00:57 PM
I work in a hospital that outsourced housekeeping and security services. My experience and that of my co-workers find it demoralizing to lose good team members who are support to the medical caregivers. Support may have been "cheaper" but services were indeed less and everyone including patients is affected. Hospital workers are a totality of caring, and support staff are not robots.
Posted by: bARBARA Mar 4, 2007 8:58:38 PM
I think gen.w.weightman was a powerful congressman.
Posted by: Mrs. Kathy Feng Mar 5, 2007 9:31:42 AM
Unbelieveable! How in the world do you justify relieving Weightman and Harvey resigning and putting Kiley in charge of cleaning up the problem that started with him? He got on national TV and downright said the problem wasn't that bad. Criminal! He is more to blame than any of the others taken to task here. He is the Surgeon General and he is the one ultimately responsible for the Healthcare of our Soldiers. RELIEVE HIM NOW!!!!
Posted by: Selfless Vet Mar 5, 2007 10:50:21 AM
Dear Bloggers
In listening to the Walter Reed hearing by the Representatives. I could hear what any of us who deal with the Hospitals and Medical world is facing as norms. I deal with this as I help my mother and Help my friends with their mothers or father.
The medical world treats everyone –EVERYONE with this neglect and time waiting and misdiagnosis and “Pontius pilot hand washing” and the family is being put more and more of the responsibility to call and contact and even negotiate with the insurances.
Now hearing and knowing the Speeches uttered by the Executive Branch and Rumsfield then hearing how the soldiers are treated and health not budgeted and even having their records of education used as part of their illness and the reason to deny care service and health (aside bar the Executive Branch needs to apology for this treatment not Kerry and his college statement that hurt the moral of the soldiers-because Bush and his recruitment policy is a “promise them “the moon and pray they die in the 5th deployment”. This Branch asks of our neighbors, children what they never could have done themselves and their parents could not make that sacrifice when asked of them).
Posted by: Betty Rose Mar 5, 2007 12:45:56 PM
This is evidence of Rummy n company's only success: plugging his buds into the tax base under the cover of national security. I have heard other horror stories of the rush to contract everything in the military. Its almost a non functional swirling mass of civilian money grubbers riding the backs of taxpayers and military members its barely held together by the dedicated professionals.
Posted by: Stalindolf Mar 5, 2007 1:33:19 PM
For you goobers that want to turn everything political, the process of contracting out the services in question began under the Clinton administration (2000).
To those that think Weightman is the goat for Kiley and Kiley's successor (Farmer), sure sounded that way at the hearing today. I think the Congressional panel pretty well figured that out based on the subtle shift in their comments and questioning.
Posted by: Well Seasoned Mar 5, 2007 6:08:19 PM
why do the people in this country think that the pres. and vice pres. can do no wrong. the walter reed and other locations will come to light now that reed has hit the news.this is another company [ halliburton ]who has also been in the news and should of been investigated LONG TIME AGO. what happen NOTHING.the vice pres should of had an investigation done on him when halliburton broke in the news.have the leaders of our counrty been so afraid that these guys just keep rolling along and getting away with this type of corruption. The mighty country isslowing going to hell in a basket.why don't the investigation get to be public coverage and let the people see what is really happening.
Posted by: ed Mar 5, 2007 7:55:52 PM
Congressman Waxman and Steven Lynch should look into a medical device used by the NFL and has been investigated by the regimental surgeon of the U.S.Marines to reduce head injury. Officials at Walter reed have not answered the inquires of a Harvard Mass General researcher. It is widely believed this procedure will benefit the troops, reducing the longterm damage.
Posted by: Mahercor Mar 5, 2007 8:17:37 PM
Why was GEN Peter Schoomaker allowed to recommend that MG Weightman be relieved and then MG Eric Schoomaker (Peter's brother) steps in to command Walter Reed and possibly become the next Army Surgeon General? (Until last week MG Weightman was by far the most likely to be the next Surgeon General.)
Posted by: Old Doc Mar 6, 2007 12:08:44 AM

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