Monday, March 05, 2007


Walter Reed Problems Seen As System Wide

Problems system wide - and KNOWLEDGE of it system wide - from the Oval office through Congress and others. It was a Republican Congress but surely some Democrats were not ignorant of the problems, neglect and abuse of our veterans! Why did no one speak up? The excuses are asinine. The situation made them "feel uncomfortable"; didn't want to "give the Army a black eye"; didn't want to "embarrass Bush".

Did anyone think our wounded and maimed veterans were "uncomfortable"? Was the Army's reputation more important than the welfare of the troops who suffered so much? And for crying out loud, was "embarrassment" for Bush a top priority over the care of our injured veterans? Poor little Bush might be embarrassed? So what? It was HIS administration and policies that caused the situation.

Articles and these pathetic self serving excuses follow below. WA


Walter Reed problems seen as systemwide
House panel chairman says failure of veterans process is ‘deeper story’

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• Lawmakers visit Walter Reed
March 5: Members of Congress hold hearings on Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital after allegations of substandard care. NBC's Jim Miklaszewski reports, and the Washington Post's Dana Priest talks about the impact her report on the hospital has had.
Nightly News

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• Calls for reform
March 5: Rep. John Tierney, D-Mass., pictured, and Rep. David Dreier, R-Calif., call for major reforms of the veterans care system in interviews on MSNBC’s “Hardball.”

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MSNBC and NBC News
Updated: 6:41 p.m. CT March 5, 2007
WASHINGTON - Well-documented failings at Walter Reed Army Medical Center are just the tip of the iceberg and will require a top-to-bottom review of how the military cares for its wounded veterans, outraged members of Congress from both parties said Monday.

The growing controversy over substandard living conditions in an outpatient facility at Walter Reed, the Army’s flagship veterans hospital, has sparked at least five major investigations in Congress and the Defense Department.

Besides costing the center’s commander and the secretary of the Army their jobs, it is also creating concern among the U.S. troops on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan. NBC News’ Brian Williams reported Monday from Iraq that several soldiers and a commander had sought him out in al-Anbar province to try to find out what was going on.

The problems at Building 18 at Walter Reed, where The Washington Post documented substandard conditions and bureaucratic problems affecting the care of injured soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, “will be one of the easier parts to take care of,” said Rep. John Tierney, D-Mass., chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee on national security, which opened hearings on the scandal Monday.

Bigger problems to be addressed
“The deeper story here is how people are treated once they’re discharged from their medical treatment into the outpatient care,” Tierney said in an interview on MSNBC’s “Hardball.”

The problems have long predated the Post’s disclosure of conditions at Walter Reed, said Tierney, whose panel heard testimony Monday describing delayed and improper medical treatment, foul sanitary conditions and lack of concern for injured veterans and their families.

“They don’t have enough advocacy, there wasn’t enough personnel there to deal with all of their intricate problems and there just really was too confusing and complex a system that really has needed for some time to be repaired,” he said. “That is a lack of leadership right up and down the line, and we didn’t get as many satisfactory answers as we wanted today.”

The anger on Capitol Hill crosses party lines. Rep. David Dreier of California, ranking Republican on the Rules Committee, said on “Hardball” that “there is bipartisan outrage over this.”

“As we try to encourage people to serve in our military, the thought of not providing them adequate care — to see something like Building 18 — is just outrageous,” Dreier said.

Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., said Sunday that he would support appointing an independent commission to investigate all post-combat medical facilities and recommend changes.

“Investigations are not always the best way to go, but I think we ought to do whatever’s necessary,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Bush troop ‘surge’ could be complicated
The scandal comes at a bad time for the Bush administration, which is moving to increase the U.S. troop presence in Iraq by about 20,000 to quell continuing sectarian violence.

“We want to make sure if the president does get his surge, that there’s some foresight into what’s going to happen and the impact on them,” Tierney said.

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• Walter Reed's critical decision
March 5: Commentators talk to MSNBC's Joe Scarborough about Walter Reed.

The White House said President Bush would name a bipartisan commission to assess whether the problems at Walter Reed extended to other facilities. Last week, Defense Secretary Robert Gates created an outside panel to review Walter Reed and the other major military hospital in the Washington area, the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., a former secretary of the Navy who was treated at Walter Reed after he was wounded during the Vietnam War, said that before blame was apportioned, it was important to distinguish between the immediate treatment wounded veterans get at Walter Reed, whose critical care is frequently cited as among the best in the world, and “what happens when we start processing them into the veterans community.”

“We’ve got huge backlogs” processing veterans’ transition after their treatment, said Webb, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which will convene its own hearings Tuesday. “You’ve got soldiers over there [at Walter Reed] taking more than a year just to get their disability claims processed just so they can get out.

“These are leadership questions, and it goes in my view to how this administration has been dealing with people once they are leaving the military,” he told “Hardball” host Chris Matthews.

‘The wrong way to treat our troops’
Lawmakers at the hearing Monday got an apology from the temporary civilian leader of the Army, which had been pummeled for more than a week for what many — including Gates — denounced as its defensive response.

“We have let some soldiers down,” said Peter Geren, undersecretary of the Army, who will become acting Army secretary later this week.

“There’s a vow that’s part of the soldier’s creed: I will never leave a fallen comrade,” Geren said. “That’s the — on the battlefield, in a hospital, as an outpatient. That is the part of our soul of every soldier. And any time that vow is broken, I can tell you it hurts the heart of the Army.”

The list of Army officials, hospital staff and patients who spoke included the medical center’s previous commander, Maj. Gen. George Weightman. Weightman was relieved of his command late last month, shortly before Gates removed Army Secretary Francis Harvey.

Fresh outrageMarch 5: Wounded soldiers spoke out on Capitol Hill against the treatment they are receiving. NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski reports, Newsweek’s Richard Wolffe discusses.

“You can’t fail one of these soldiers ... not one. And we did,” Weightman said.
Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley, the Army surgeon general and head of Walter Reed until 2004, also apologized for housing conditions that did “not meet our standards.”

Kiley said that the system for outpatient care was “complex, confusing and frustrating” and that a team had been sent to 11 other installations around the country to make sure there were no similar housing problems.

Army officials told NBC News that Kiley was expected to be reduced in rank and forced to retire.
Soldiers’ storiesLawmakers listened closely as several patients came to the hearing with stories of lax or poor treatment at Walter Reed.

“Building 18 — honestly, I hate to say — it was like a ghetto,” said Spc. Jeremy Duncan, who helped spark the scandal after he was interviewed extensively for the Post’s articles. “It was unforgivable for anybody to live — it wasn’t fit for anybody to live in a room like that.”
Annette McLeod told the committee that her husband, Cpl. Wendell McLeod, was originally sent to the wrong hospital after he was hit in the head with a steel door in Iraq and suffered a head injury.

Once at Walter Reed, she said, he suffered delays in getting outpatient tests and treatment.
“This is how we treat our soldiers,” she said. “... They’re good enough to go and sacrifice their lives. And we give them nothing.”

By Alex Johnson of with NBC’s Brian Williams, Jim Miklaszewski and Patty Culhane and MSNBC’s Chris Matthews.

Walter Reed problems seen as systemwide
WP: Soldiers share troubling care stories
Army secretary resigns
Bush orders review of military hospitals
Wounded Marine returns to a proposal
Hundreds of Iraq Vets Are Homeless
NBC: U.S. tries new tactics in Iraq
Jacobs: The IED solution
Video: Iraq vets receiving poor care


CONFIRMED: Top House Spending Official Knew Of Walter Reed Squalor

billyoung.JPGCongressional Quarterly confirms today that senior House conservatives, including the chairmen of the appropriations and oversight committees, knew about the neglect and deplorable conditions at Walter Reed years before they were exposed by the Washington Post.

Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R-FL), former chairman of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, said he stopped short of going public with the hospital’s problems “to avoid embarrassing the Army while it was fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan”:

“We got in Gen. Kiley’s face on a regular basis,” Young said, adding that he even contacted the commander of the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda in the hopes of getting better care there for the patient with the aneurysm, though doctors at Walter Reed declined to transfer him. …

“We did not go public with these concerns, because we did not want to undermine the confidence of the patients and their families and **give the Army a black eye while fighting a war,” Young said.

Young claims he regularly “got in Gen. Kiley’s face.” But Kiley never responded to Young’s complaints. Nevertheless, as ThinkProgress noted last week, Young was publicly praising Kiley during a congressional hearing as recently as January:

YOUNG: Well, Mr. Chairman, I want to join you in welcoming our guests and our witnesses today, having known especially Don Arthur and General Kiley very, very well over the years. I thought they’d get tired of seeing us in their hospitals. And we haven’t had as much opportunity to visit with the Air Force, General. But I know that these gentlemen are committed to providing our war heroes with the very, very best medical care that is possible.

Also, while Young claims he didn’t want to go public with the problems at Walter Reed, he was more than willing to use wounded veterans publicly as a political cudgel. Here is Young on the House floor on 11/18/05, speaking against Rep. John Murtha’s (D-PA) redeployment plan:

YOUNG: So tonight, Mr. Speaker, we need to send a strong message to our troops and to their families. For those families who are dealing with the loss of a loved one, for those families who are dealing with a seriously wounded soldier or marine who might be at Walter Reed Hospital or at Bethesda Hospital or at Landsthul in Germany, we need to let them know that we are here to support them. (CR, p. H11009)

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Posted by Nico at 10:39 am

Despite Knowledge Of Deplorable Conditions, Rep. Young Praised Army’s Top Medical Official

sotu_250×192shkl.jpgIn today’s Washington Post, Rep. Bill Young (R-FL) admits that he has known of the neglect and deplorable conditions at Walter Reed for years, but didn’t do anything because when he approached hospital officials, they made him “feel very uncomfortable.”

Young’s excuse is pathetic. From 1999-2005, he served as chairman of the Appropriations Committee, which controls all federal discretionary spending. Young could have easily subpoenaed the Army and conducted a thorough public investigation.

The real problem may be that Young was too close to Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley, a key figure in this scandal, to take action. On Jan. 19, 2007 — years after Young had learned of the neglect but one month before the Washington Post revealed it to the public — Kiley testified before a House subcommittee. Young reminisced about how he had known Kiley “very, very well over the years,” and praised him as “committed to providing our war heroes with the very, very best medical care that is possible.”

YOUNG: Well, Mr. Chairman, I want to join you in welcoming our guests and our witnesses today, having known especially Don Arthur and General Kiley very, very well over the years. I thought they’d get tired of seeing us in their hospitals. And we haven’t had as much opportunity to visit with the Air Force, General. But I know that these gentlemen are committed to providing our war heroes with the very, very best medical care that is possible.

But as today’s Post shows, Rep. Young’s wife Beverly (and presumably Young himself) knew that Kiley was a key figure responsible for the neglect:

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.”

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Posted by Think Progress March 1, 2007 12:27 pm


Snow: President Bush ‘Certainly’ Was ‘Aware Of The Conditions In The Wards’ At Walter Reed

In today’s press briefing, a reporter asked White House Press Secretary Tony Snow about the Washington Post’s two-part series over the weekend, highlighting the Walter Reed hospital’s dilapidated conditions. Snow stated that “the president certainly has been aware of the conditions in the wards where he has visited, and visited regularly.” Snow also affirmed that the administration was aware of Walter Reed’s conditions “before the articles appeared in the paper.” Watch it:

The Army began repairs on the facilities yesterday, only after the media reports and intense public criticism. Apparently, Bush is fine with U.S. troops living in squalid conditions — as long as no one else knows about it.

(The Progress Report has more on the state of veterans under the Bush administration. Read it and sign up to receive the newsletter HERE.)

Digg It!


QUESTION: You responded to me a moment ago that the administration was aware of this before the articles appeared in the paper.

SNOW: That is my understanding.

But, again, this is something that’s an action item over at the Department of Defense and in particular the Department of the Army. I am not fully briefed on the activities of who knew what, when. And I suggest…

QUESTION: Was the president aware of it? Was the White House aware of it?

SNOW: I am not certain when this — when we first became aware of it.

Now, the president certainly has been aware of the conditions in the wards where he has visited, and visited regularly. And we also have people from Walter Reed regularly over to the White House as the guests, sometimes in fairly large numbers.

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Posted by Amanda February 20, 2007 2:12

Levin: Last Congress Didn’t Investigate Walter Reed Because ‘They Did Not Want To Embarrass’ Bush

On NBC’s Meet the Press today, Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) argued that the Senate Armed Services Committee did not conduct oversight of the treatment at military facilities in recent years because “they did not want to embarrass the President.” As the new chairman of the committee, Levin said he will be visiting Walter Reed this week and holding a hearing on March 6.

Levin decried the deplorable conditions at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. “Where we need a surge is not in Iraq. We need a surge of concern for our troops, for the veterans, for the injured, for the wounded, for the families of those who have lost loved ones. That’s the surge of concern and that’s the surge that we need,” Levin said. Watch it:

070305_cover_standard_120×159shkl.jpgIn its cover story, “Failing Our Wounded,” Newsweek reports that the government is struggling to care for an increasing number of injured soldiers. Newsweek’s investigation of the VA system “paints a grim portrait of an overloaded bureaucracy cluttered with red tape; veterans having to wait weeks or months for mental-health care and other appointments; families sliding into debt as VA case managers study disability claims over many months, and the seriously wounded requiring help from outside experts just to understand the VA’s arcane system of rights and benefits.”

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Posted by Faiz February 25, 2007 12:08 pm


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