Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Editorial: Medical scandal goes beyond Walter Reed

Editorial: Medical scandal goes beyond Walter Reed
Stories tell of poor care in many places and for a long time.
Published: March 06, 2007

"The living conditions were the worst I'd ever seen for soldiers. Paint peeling, mold, windows that didn't work. I went to the hospital chaplain to get them to issue blankets and linens."
Capt. Leslie Haines, of Ft. Knox, Kentucky hospital in 2004, in Washington Post.
Washington Post's Anne Hull and Dana Priest ignited a firestorm in Washington two weeks ago when they reported on the abysmal outpatient care provided at Water Reed Medical Center. The center's commander has been fired; the secretary of the Army has resigned, and President Bush and Defense Secretary Robert Gates have had to reiterate what should never have been in doubt -- that this nation will provide the best possible care to those wounded in military service.


Monday, March 05, 2007

Squalor surrounding wounded Iraq veterans shocks America

Squalor surrounding wounded Iraq veterans shocks America
The Bush administration has gone into damage control as the scandal over the treatment of injured soldiers grows, Sarah Baxter reports from Washington
March 05, 2007
WHILE he was recovering from a double amputation at the Walter Reed Army Medical Centre in Washington, Latseen Benson, 27, met a parade of VIPs.
Every time the President, the Vice-President or the Defence Secretary passed by, the military hospital would be thoroughly scrubbed. But the improvements would not last long, according to Diane Benson, the mother of the injured Iraq war veteran.
"I wasn't so bothered by the rats, although there were a lot running around outside, but I really wanted his room to be swept and kept clean," she said.
"You couldn't get people to mop the blood and urine from the floor while my son was there with his legs wide open."

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Military Times coverage of the controversy at Walter Reed

Military Times coverage of the controversy at Walter Reed
Posted : Friday Mar 2, 2007 18:54:42 EST

Francis Harvey, caught under the giant shadow cast by the controversy over outpatient care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, resigned today as secretary of the Army, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates announced Friday afternoon at the Pentagon.
Read all Military Times coverage about Walter Reed Army Medical Center:
Official: Gates sought Harvey’s resignation (March 2)
Walter Reed topic of five hearings next week (March 2)
Maj. Gen. Eric Schoomaker named new Walter Reed head (March 2)
Committee subpoenas former Walter Reed chief (March 2)
Walter Reed chief fired; critics say more must go (March 2)
Army denies patients face daily inspections (Feb. 28)
Walter Reed patients told to keep quiet (Feb. 27)
Walter Reed soldier wins small victory (Feb. 27)
Gates’ candor on hospital woes lauded (Feb. 27
Pentagon names members of Walter Reed panel (Feb. 23)
Renovations underway at Walter Reed (Feb. 22)
Wounded and waiting (Feb. 17)


Soldiers at Walter Reed Building 18 moved

Soldiers at Walter Reed Building 18 moved
By Kelly Kennedy - Staff writerPosted : Monday Mar 5, 2007 11:40:18 EST

The soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center's Building 18 moved to Building 14 Sunday, a soldier in the Medical Hold Unit told Military Times.
Read complete coverage of the Walter Reed controversy.
At the recently remodeled building, there wasn't a rodent to be seen. But there were plenty of mice — the kind attached to computers.
At their new digs, the soldiers found new Apple computers, Internet access and a 32-inch HDTV.
"It's great," the soldier said, still speaking on the condition of anonymity after last week's order not to speak to the press. The Building 18 soldiers had a separate formation from the rest of the Medical Hold Unit where they were ordered to go through their chain of command if they had problems and to tell reporters to talk to public affairs personnel — and not to soldiers, the soldier said.


How Are Wounded Soldiers Being Treated?

How Are Wounded Soldiers Being Treated?
Local V.A. Hospital Admits Problems
By Mark Matthews
Mar. 5 - KGO - The scandal over horrendous conditions at the Army's premier medical facility shows no signs of letting up. Wounded soldiers and their families began testifying today at a House subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill. We take a look at that and the problem with veterans' health care here in the Bay Area.
There was some pretty dramatic testimony from soldiers and their families, and from the hospital commanders.
The pictures of the living conditions at Walter Reed Medical Center show mold covered walls in Building 18.
Jeremy Duncan, Walter Reed Outpatient: "It wasn't fit for anyone to live in a room like that."

'I failed,' says fired Walter Reed general

'I failed,' says fired Walter Reed general
By Johanna Neuman, Times Staff Writer12:53 PM PST, March 5, 2007
WASHINGTON -- The general who was fired after reports of substandard medical care for veterans at Walter Reed Army Medical Center said today he agreed with critics that there was a failure of leadership at the facility.Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates "called this 'a failure of leadership.' I agree. We can't fail one of these soldiers, one of these patients, and we did."
Maj. Gen. George W. Weightman, who was fired as commander at Walter Reed after the Washington Post published a series of gripping stories about the soldiers' shoddy medical care, argued that most patient care for returning soldiers "is superb."


Shameful treatment of injured GIs should have us up in arms

Shameful treatment of injured GIs should have us up in arms
March 4, 2007
Support our troops: It's a sentiment you can subscribe to fully whether or not you want those troops to be on the battlefield, which, in the case of the profoundly painful, perplexing conflict in Iraq, can take the form of a roadway or public square or food market. It's also a sentiment you can get behind in calling for the proper treatment of wounded GIs when they return home. Shockingly, many soldiers who made a physical sacrifice for their country in Iraq and Afghanistan have been denied that kind of support at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the country's best-known facility for the treatment of veterans.
Embarrassed by a series of reports in the Washington Post on the substandard outpatient conditions at Walter Reed, and investigations by Congress and the Army itself, the military fired Maj. Gen. George W. Weightman, who was in charge of the hospital, and Army Secretary Francis Harvey resigned. President Bush pledged to name a bipartisan commission to review the level of care our wounded servicemen and women are receiving at all such facilities.

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Duckworth Nominated To Investigate Walter Reed

Duckworth Nominated To Investigate Walter Reed
Durbin Urges Bush To Name Her To Presidential Commission

(CBS) CHICAGO The despicable conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center have prompted congressional hearings and motivated an Illinois senator to nominate a local war hero to the committee looking into the mess.CBS 2's Mike Parker reports that Illinois' senior Sen. Dick Durbin is urging President Bush to name Tammy Duckworth to the presidential commission that will investigate conditions at Walter Reed and other military hospitals.

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Army Generals Apologize for Walter Reed Failures

Army Generals Apologize for Walter Reed Failures
Maj. Gen. George Weightman, who was recently fired as head of Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley apologized for substandard outpatient care at the medical center and vowed to improve the system at a House hearing Monday.

REP. JOHN TIERNEY (D), Massachusetts: ... hearing title, "Is This Any Way to Treat Our Troops? The Care and Condition of Wounded Soldiers at Walter Reed" will come to order.
KWAME HOLMAN: This morning, a House Oversight Committee undertook Congress's first inquiry into the problems faced by soldiers receiving outpatient care at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and chose to hold its hearing at the medical center itself.
REP. JOHN TIERNEY: This is absolutely the wrong way to treat our troops, and serious reforms need to happen immediately. Over the past month, the perception of Walter Reed has gone from the flagship of our military health system to a glaring problem. This subcommittee wants some answers.
KWAME HOLMAN: One of the military's busiest and highest-profile medical facilities, Walter Reed came under wide-ranging criticism after a series of Washington Post reports last month detailed substandard living conditions and questionable outpatient care.
In the wake of the reports, last week, Walter Reed's commander, Major General George Weightman, was fired, and Army Secretary Francis Harvey resigned under pressure from Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
And President Bush has ordered a review of conditions at the nation's military and veterans hospitals, inundated with injured troops from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
John Tierney of Massachusetts chaired the oversight hearing.
REP. JOHN TIERNEY: Where does the buck stop? There appears to be a pattern developing here that we've seen before: first, deny; then, try to cover up; then, designate a fall guy.
In this case, I have concerns that the Army is literally trying to whitewash over the problems.
I appreciate the first steps that have been taken to rectify the problems at Walter Reed and to hold those responsible accountable. We need a sustained focus here, and much more needs to be done.
I also, unfortunately, feel that these problems go well beyond the walls of Walter Reed and that they are problems systemic throughout the military health care system. And as we send more and more troops into Iraq and Afghanistan, these problems are only going to get worse, not better, and we should be prepared to deal with them.
Staff Sgt. John Daniel ShannonU.S. Army
We have almost no advocacy that is not working for the government, no one that we can talk to about this process who's knowledgeable and we can trust is going to give us fair treatment and informed guidance.
Accounts from patients KWAME HOLMAN: Committee members heard first-hand stories of patients and their families. Army Staff Sergeant John Daniel Shannon suffered brain injuries and lost his left eye in fighting near Ramadi in Iraq in 2004.
STAFF SGT. JOHN DANIEL SHANNON, U.S. Army: Upon my discharge, hospital staff gave me a photocopied map of the installation and told me to go to the Mologne House where I would live while in outpatient. I was extremely disoriented and wandered around while looking for someone to direct me to the Mologne House. Eventually, I found it.
I had been given a couple of weeks' appointments and some other paperwork upon leaving Ward 58, and I went to all of my appointments during that time. After these appointments, I sat in my room for another couple of weeks wondering when someone would contact me about my continuing medical care.
We have almost no advocacy that is not working for the government, no one that we can talk to about this process who's knowledgeable and we can trust is going to give us fair treatment and informed guidance.
KWAME HOLMAN: Army Specialist Jeremy Duncan was wounded by an improvised explosive device in Samarra.
SPC. JEREMY DUNCAN, U.S. Army: I had fractured my neck, almost lost my left arm. I lost a left ear, and lost sight in the left eye.
KWAME HOLMAN: Duncan resided in Building 18, an off-campus facility where dozens of outpatients stay. After the Washington Post reports, the Army began renovations.
SPC. JEREMY DUNCAN: The conditions in the room, in my mind, were just -- it was unforgivable for anybody to live. It wasn't fit for anybody to live in a room like that. I know most soldiers have -- you've just come out of recovery, you have weaker immune systems.
The black mold can do damage to people, the holes in the walls. I wouldn't live there, even if I had to. It wasn't fit for anybody.
Passing the buckKWAME HOLMAN: Annette McLeod helped care for her husband, a severely wounded Army National Guard corporal.
ANNETTE MCLEOD, Husband Wounded in War: My life was ripped apart the day that my husband was injured.
KWAME HOLMAN: She was questioned by California Democrat Henry Waxman.
REP. HENRY WAXMAN (D), California: What's your reaction, when you've been trying to get people's attention to the situation for your husband, and now, when we have it so clearly laid out in the press, and there's attention being paid to it, the higher-ups say that they were just surprised to hear about all this?
ANNETTE MCLEOD: I have one question: Were they deaf? Because I worked the chain. I worked anywhere they would listen. So if you don't want to hear it, you don't want to hear it.
REP. HENRY WAXMAN: Specialist Duncan?
SPC. JEREMY DUNCAN: There's no way they couldn't have known. I mean, everybody had to have known somewhere, just if they wanted to actually look at it or pay attention or believe it, it's up to them.
KWAME HOLMAN: Tennessee Republican John Duncan asked whether any officials took responsibility.
REP. JOHN DUNCAN (R), Tennessee: Did you find that to be true, that everybody was blaming somebody else with the problems that you had?
ANNETTE MCLEOD: I feel that everybody's passing the buck. You go to one, and they say, "Well, it's not my problem; you need to go to so and so."
I did everything but camp out, I mean, honestly, and if I could get away with that, I probably would have done that, too. You can't keep looking and not getting answers.
Lt. Gen. Kevin KileyArmy Surgeon General
We're taking immediate actions to improve the living conditions and welfare of our soldier-patients, to increase responsiveness of our leaders and the medical system, and to enhance support services for families of our wounded soldiers.
Testimony from former officialsREP. JOHN TIERNEY: I'd ask if you'd rise and raise your right hand, please.
KWAME HOLMAN: The committee then heard from Army officials most recently in charge. Major General George Weightman was relieved of command last Thursday.
MAJ. GEN. GEORGE WEIGHTMAN, Former Commander, Walter Reed Army Medical Center: I was the Walter Reed commander. And from what we see, with some soldiers' living conditions, and the administrative challenges we faced, and the complex medical board-physical evaluation board processes, it is clear mistakes were made, and I was in charge. We can't fail one of these soldiers or their families, not one. And we did.
KWAME HOLMAN: Lieutenant General Kevin Kiley, the Army's surgeon general, was in charge of Walter Reed from 2002 to 2004.
LT. GEN. KEVIN KILEY, Army Surgeon General: Simply put, I am in command. And as I share these failures, I also accept the responsibility and the challenge for rapid corrective action.
We're taking immediate actions to improve the living conditions and welfare of our soldier-patients, to increase responsiveness of our leaders and the medical system, and to enhance support services for families of our wounded soldiers.
REP. TOM DAVIS (R), Virginia: You have the Army not talking to the V.A.
KWAME HOLMAN: Virginia Republican Tom Davis tried to get to the bottom of when the problems came to the attention of those commanders.
REP. TOM DAVIS: So it really wasn't the Washington Post. You knew these were problems. You may not have known specifically what it looked like, and you may not have been able to put faces and stories behind it, but this was an ongoing concern, wasn't it?
LT. GEN. KEVIN KILEY: Well, yes, sir. And it was not just at Walter Reed. We were concerned about medical holdover operations and medical hold operations at all of our installations.
KWAME HOLMAN: Davis asked Kiley what he did about problems with outpatient care he learned about last October.
LT. GEN. KEVIN KILEY: My staff informed me that the Walter Reed staff was working it, that they recognized that there were issues, and that they were taking action.
REP. TOM DAVIS: Yes, please.
MAJ. GEN. GEORGE WEIGHTMAN: ... address some of the specifics on that? We realized that to address some of the problems with how long it took our patients to get through the medical board process, that we needed more physicians trained on the MEB process, and to help move those records.
So we added three different physicians part-time to work on those records. We also realized that we didn't have enough of the case managers, as well, to work with the patients within the medical hold and medical holdover companies, and we began active recruiting efforts for those, as well.
REP. TOM DAVIS: Our problem, I think, is a systemic problem, that we have more people coming back than was anticipated. We have antiquated systems integrating the Reserves, and the Guard, and the Army back and forth.
It's a paperwork nightmare. It's a labyrinth that you'd need a PhD and a law degree, and you still couldn't navigate yourself through.
Maj. Gen. George WeightmanU.S. Army
I'd just to apologize for ... having so many bureaucratic processes that just took your fortitude to be an advocate for your husband that you shouldn't have to do. I promise we will do better.
Fixing the problems KWAME HOLMAN: Connecticut Republican Christopher Shays.
REP. CHRISTOPHER SHAYS (R), Connecticut: What I wrestle with is that there's not anyone involved in this that didn't know there were challenges. Because, frankly -- I'll just make this last point -- these problems are huge.
The only reason why this story got attention is there was something visual: There was mold on a wall. But the mold on the wall is, in fact, the tip of the iceberg.
And so help me out, because you're going and people are going to say it's going to be taken care of. And in two weeks from now or two months from now, how do we know it is?
LT. GEN. KEVIN KILEY: Sir, I agree with you. The mold is a brick-and-mortar issue. We've got it fixed in Building 18. We are examining all the rest of the brick and mortar in medical command to make sure we don't have those kinds of issues.
REP. CHRISTOPHER SHAYS: See, I think that's the easy part.
LT. GEN. KEVIN KILEY: Yes, sir. The second piece is the thing I referenced, which is the heretofore not fully realized complexity of the injuries of these great young Americans.
I'm a co-chair of the Mental Health Task Force. Senators Boxer and Lieberman were coming to closure on our work this last year. The issues of mental health, PTSD, late-emerging PTSD, the issues of TBI, traumatic brain injury, how to diagnose it...
REP. CHRISTOPHER SHAYS: I don't know what you're saying to me now.
LT. GEN. KEVIN KILEY: What I'm saying is, these are very complex patients that are severely injured in multiple emotional, physical and mental ways. And then, finally, sir, we're going to have a long-term challenge to continue to care for these soldiers and their families.
KWAME HOLMAN: And Kiley acknowledged some patient care problems were exacerbated when the Army contracted out much of Walter Reed's facilities management and non-medical care to private companies.
DEL. ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON (D), District of Columbia: Â Would it have been the better side of wisdom not to privatize everything here, except the clinical and medical workforce, and therefore add to the stability or the instability that inevitably comes with WRAMC?
LT. GEN. KEVIN KILEY: It did increase the instability.
KWAME HOLMAN: And at one point this afternoon, the generals were asked if they wanted to address those who testified earlier.
LT. GEN. KEVIN KILEY: I feel terrible for them.
MAJ. GEN. GEORGE WEIGHTMAN: I'd just to apologize for not meeting their expectations, not only in the care provided, but also in having so many bureaucratic processes that just took your fortitude to be an advocate for your husband that you shouldn't have to do. I promise we will do better.
KWAME HOLMAN: Tomorrow, the Senate's Armed Services Committee will hear more about living conditions at Walter Reed and soldiers' outpatient care.

Walter Reed, Our National Shame (7 Letters)

Walter Reed, Our National Shame (7 Letters)
Published: March 6, 2007
To the Editor:
Re “Army Secretary Ousted in Furor on Hospital Care” (front page, March 3):
The coverage of the shamefully inadequate facilities at Walter Reed Army Medical Center is long overdue. My first experience with the Army’s “premier medical facility” was in early 2005, when I arrived at the hospital after being medically evacuated from Iraq.

Internal Walter Reed Memo Identifying Problems (pdf)

Internal Walter Reed Memo Identifying Problems (pdf)


Letter to Major General George W. Weightman

Letter to Major General George W. Weightman

Soldiers Testify Over Poor Care at Walter Reed

Soldiers Testify Over Poor Care at Walter Reed
WASHINGTON, March 5 — Members of Congress heard wrenching testimony on Monday from wounded soldiers treated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and contrite promises from top Army officials to correct the conditions there.
The general who most recently commanded Walter Reed, a premier military hospital in Washington, and the Army’s surgeon general accepted responsibility for the situation faced by some wounded troops, including poor housing, neglect and a hopelessly complicated bureaucratic maze.
The Army officials said they were working to address the problems at Walter Reed and were examining the situation at other medical centers.
“We have let some soldiers down,” said Pete Geren, the acting secretary of the Army, addressing the panel before the hearing began.

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Cleland on the Veterans’ Health-Care Crisis

Cleland on the Veterans’ Health-Care Crisis

The military health-care system can’t keep pace with the flood of battlefield casualties. Max Cleland—Vietnam vet, triple amputee, and former U.S. senator—on the roots of the crisis, and what needs to be
March 5, 2007 - The controversy touched off by an investigative series in The Washington Post on the state of the military health-care system is growing. At a congressional hearing Monday, military officials said they were checking conditions at other hospitals—not just Washington’s Walter Reed, where the Post uncovered run-down living conditions for soldiers and mismanagement. Several congressmen also addressed the bureaucracy at the Department of Veterans Affairs, where a Newsweek investigation turned up long waits for veterans seeking medical care and disability payments.

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Coming Home

Monday, March 510P ET/PT: Coming Home
For men and women returning from combat, the welcome back to the US is just the beginning of a long road home. We go beyond parades and yellow ribbons to examine the anguish, and the exhilarating triumphs, of the veterans of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

‘For God & Country’: A sniper’s story

‘For God & Country’: A sniper’s story
A 22-year-old Marine sniper talks about fighting, coming home from Iraq

"For God & Country: A Marine Sniper’s Story" tells the tale of Matt Orth, a 22-year-old war veteran whose job is to silently stalk the enemy in advance of the front lines to identify and eliminate key enemy personnel. Through raw photos and video, Matt shows in bold detail what it’s like to kill and how it feels to come home and be called an “assassin.”

MSNBC Walter Reed Fallout- Videos

Walter Reed Fallout

Walter Reed problems seen as systemwide

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


MSNBC and NBC News
Updated: 7:41 p.m. ET 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.


Sunday, March 04, 2007

Amputee told to wear pants, not shorts, then uninvited to Bush ceremony

From the Washington Post:

Perks and stardom do not come to every amputee. Sgt. David Thomas, a gunner with the Tennessee National Guard, spent his first three months at Walter Reed with no decent clothes; medics in Samarra had cut off his uniform. Heavily drugged, missing one leg and suffering from traumatic brain injury, David, 42, was finally told by a physical therapist to go to the Red Cross office, where he was given a T-shirt and sweat pants. He was awarded a Purple Heart but had no underwear.
David tangled with Walter Reed's image machine when he wanted to attend a ceremony for a fellow amputee, a Mexican national who was being granted U.S. citizenship by President Bush. A case worker quizzed him about what he would wear. It was summer, so David said shorts. The case manager said the media would be there and shorts were not advisable because the amputees would be seated in the front row.
" 'Are you telling me that I can't go to the ceremony 'cause I'm an amputee?' " David recalled asking. "She said, 'No, I'm saying you need to wear pants.' "

Face the Nation

Topic:The Iraq War and Treatment of U.S. Veterans
Guests:Senator Carl Levin, D-MichiganChairman, Armed Services Committee
Senator Joseph Lieberman, I-ConnecticutArmed Services Committee
Anne HullThe Washington Post

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Walter Reed Furor Claims Army Secretary

Walter Reed Furor Claims Army Secretary
Saturday March 3, 2007 1:16 PM
AP Photo WX106, WX105, DCEV101
AP Military Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) - It began with reports of mice and moldy plaster, but after two weeks of outrage, the scandal over poor conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center has claimed several careers - including the secretary of the Army's.
Secretary Francis J. Harvey's abrupt dismissal Friday came under withering criticism from Pentagon chief Robert Gates, who said the Army's response to the substandard conditions for the war-wounded was defensive, and not aggressive enough. And it left the door open for more personnel changes, as investigations continue and Congress prepares for hearings next week.

Transcript: President Bush's Weekly Radio Address

Transcript: President Bush's Weekly Radio Address
Saturday , March 03, 2007

Good morning. One of my most solemn experiences as President is visiting men and women recovering from wounds they suffered in defense of our country. Spending time with these wounded warriors is also inspiring, because so many of them bring the same courage they showed on the battlefield to their battle for recovery.
These servicemen and women deserve the thanks of our country, and they deserve the best care our Nation can provide. That is why I was deeply troubled by recent reports of substandard conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Most of the people working at Walter Reed are dedicated professionals. These fine doctors, nurses, and therapists care deeply about our wounded troops, and they work day and night to help them. Yet some of our troops at Walter Reed have experienced bureaucratic delays and living conditions that are less than they deserve. This is unacceptable to me, it is unacceptable to our country, and it's not going to continue.
On hearing the reports about Walter Reed, I asked Secretary of Defense Bob Gates to assess the situation firsthand and report back to me. He confirmed that there are real problems at Walter Reed, and he's taken action to hold people accountable, including relieving the general in charge of the facility. Secretary Gates has also formed an independent review group that will investigate how this situation was allowed to happen, how it can be fixed, and how we can prevent it from happening again. Walter Reed has a long tradition of outstanding medical service, and my Administration will ensure that the soldiers recovering there are treated with the dignity and respect they have earned.
As we work to improve conditions at Walter Reed, we're also taking steps to find out whether similar problems have occurred at other military and veterans hospitals. So I'm announcing that my Administration is creating a bipartisan Presidential Commission to conduct a comprehensive review of the care America is providing our wounded servicemen and women. This review will examine their treatment from the time they leave the battlefield through their return to civilian life as veterans, so we can ensure that we are meeting their physical and mental health needs. In the coming days, I will announce the members of this commission, and set a firm deadline for them to report back to me with their recommendations.
We will use the commission's recommendations as part of our ongoing effort to improve our service to our Nation's veterans. Since 2001, we've helped over one million more veterans take advantage of the VA health care system, and with my 2008 budget proposal, we will have increased the VA's health care budget by 83 percent over the past six years, from about $20 billion to more than $36 billion. Overall, I'm asking Congress for more than $86 billion for veterans' services this year. If Congress approves my request, this would amount to a 77 percent increase since I took office, and the highest level of support for veterans in American history.
The men and women recovering at Walter Reed and our other military hospitals are remarkable individuals. Many have suffered wounds that even time will never fully heal. Yet they're facing the future with optimism, and a determination to move forward with their lives.
One of these brave warriors is Army Specialist Eduardo Leal-Cardenas. He was injured when an improvised explosive device blew up his vehicle in Iraq. The blast shattered bones in both legs, broke his ribs, and broke his back and neck. Some questioned whether he would ever regain the ability to walk. There was no doubt in Eduardo's mind, and he began his rehab while still bedridden. Today, he's left Walter Reed, he's walking again, and he has something else he is proud of — during his recovery, Eduardo became a U.S. citizen. I was proud to be with him at Walter Reed when he took his citizenship oath. If you ask Eduardo what American citizenship means to him, he answers with just one word: "Freedom."
Our Nation is blessed to have so many fine Americans who are willing to serve. We're blessed to have so many compassionate volunteers who give their time to care for our injured soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines. We're blessed to have so many fine medical professionals who dedicate their lives to healing our troops. This country has a moral obligation to provide our servicemen and women with the best possible care and treatment. They deserve it, and they will get it.
Thank you for listening.

Bush `troubled' by care for wounded soldiers

Bush `troubled' by care for wounded soldiers
By Ron Hutcheson and Chris Adams
McClatchy Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON - In more fallout from reports of appalling conditions at the Army's top medical facility, Army Secretary Francis Harvey resigned Friday and President Bush announced a far-reaching investigation into the quality of health care for wounded soldiers.
Bush said he would appoint a bipartisan commission to examine the treatment of wounded military personnel ``from the time they leave the battlefield through their return to civilian life.'' He said he was ``deeply troubled'' by reports of substandard care at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where some recuperating veterans complained of being neglected and left in moldy, deteriorating facilities.


Friday, March 02, 2007

Secretary of Army Resigns Over Walter Reed Problems

Secretary of Army Resigns Over Walter Reed Problems (Update4)
By Ken Fireman
March 2 (Bloomberg) -- Secretary of the Army Francis Harvey resigned, the second official in as many days to lose his job over deficiencies in outpatient care for wounded service personnel at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced the departure of Harvey, 63, today and made clear it was directly connected to the problems at the facility in Washington.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Pols point fingers,vets lose limbs
Eric Alva, who lost a leg in Iraq, is set to waterski at Disabled Sports
Talk about not having a leg to stand on.
When I read the recent Washington Post stories about the despicable treatment some of our maimed Iraq veterans are getting at Walter Reed Army Hospital I also saw quotes in another story from this current administration saying that the new Democratic Congress doesn't care about our troops.
Reading the stories, I thought about the day I met some of these special vets.