The Two Worlds of Walter Reed
Friday, Feb. 23, 2007 By MICHAEL WEISSKOPF/WASHINGTON
We used to get chocolate milk delivered to our beds. The amputees of Walter Reed Army Medical Center were accustomed to first-class service as a matter of hospital policy. "The Ritz-Carlton is where you want to go, not Motel 6," the head nurse of Ward 57 told her staff after the Iraq war began in 2003. "That's how I want all my patients treated."
But it was a courtesy that apparently stopped at the hospital's front door. According to a series in this week's Washington Post, some wounded soldiers have lived amid mice, mold and mismanagement in outpatient facilities. It was a shocking account to ordinary Americans who know of Walter Reed by its spit-shine, high-tech image, but especially to me. An embedded reporter who lost a hand in a grenade attack, I was treated at Walter Reed as an in-patient from December 16, 2003 to January 8, 2004, when I left for my home in Washington. I returned regularly to the hospital as an outpatient for 18 months, stopping often to visit friends who were living in the modern, clean Malogne House.