Archive for Sunday, March 4, 2007

Only the best

Americans should be united in their disgust of squalid housing conditions for some wounded soldiers receiving outpatient treatment at a respected Army hospital.

March 4, 2007


It's sometimes hard to understand Americans' repeated assurance that even if they disagree with United States policy in Iraq, they still support America's troops.

The nation's reaction to the pitiful conditions that have come to light at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center may help define that stand.

The conditions in which wounded soldiers reportedly are living while they receive outpatient treatment at Walter Reed rise above political posturing. There is little debate over whether men and women who have suffered sometimes life-altering injuries in the service of their country deserve better.

It truly is an outrage to read reports of conditions at a former hotel near Walter Reed in Washington, D.C. Rooms in a building that houses 76 soldiers receiving outpatient treatment reportedly are plagued by mold, leaky plumbing and holes in the ceilings. Even more appalling is that U.S. Army officials apparently had been aware of these conditions for some time, perhaps years, and done nothing to correct them.

Unfortunately, the person who temporarily has been placed in charge of the hospital appears to be among those who have minimized or ignored the problems.

Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley was named Thursday to replace Walter Reed commander Maj. Gen. George W. Weightman. It's a puzzling move. Although the need for change at Walter Reed is obvious, it's less obvious that Weightman, who had been in command for only six months, should be the scapegoat. It's even more strange that he should be replaced by Kiley who was commander at Walter Reed for two years before becoming surgeon general in 2004.

The Washington Post, which shined the light on the Walter Reed situation, documented deplorable conditions at the hospital during Kiley's command. Even if we assume conditions had worsened after Kiley's departure, his comments shortly after the Washington Post stories were published show a disturbing lack of concern. Kiley said the newspaper presented a "one-sided representation" and added, "While we have some issues here, this is not a horrific, catastrophic failure at Walter Reed."

The soldiers and families living in moldy, leaking housing might disagree. Fortunately, many high officials in the federal government have expressed their dismay at the situation and pledged to correct it.

It is unimaginable that high-ranking Army officers who presumably have served in combat would tolerate such substandard living conditions for combat-wounded soldiers. These men and women have paid a huge price in the service of their country, and they deserve no less than the best medical treatment and housing that the United States has to offer.


denak 11 years, 3 months ago

So, Ragingbear, do two wrongs make a right. Just because there are people living in squalid housing conditions and lack medical care in the civilian world, does not mean that our men and women in uniform should suffer as well.

This situation shouldn't be happening. The author is right. Our men and women in uniform do deserve better.

They deserve to have all the armour they need.

They deserve to know when their tour of duty is going to be over.

They deserve to not have their death annuity or other benefits cut.

The way this administration is treating our soldiers is a national disgrace.

I spent 5 years in the Marine Corps. Eight months of them were in Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm.

No one who lays down their life for our country should be treated this way.

But unfortunately, our government does not see it that way and the American people should be outraged!


Ragingbear 11 years, 3 months ago

As opposed to the squalid housing conditions and lack of medical care for those below the poverty line?

sourpuss 11 years, 3 months ago

Actually, the troops should not be asked to die overseas unless the US is at direct risk. This is the second time in a century, and Americans do not seem to mind sacrificing their sons to the political war machine. Wake up, folks. These wars are far more about American politics than keeping the world safe.

As for the hospital, of course it is shameful, but the Bush Administration doesn't care if the people it puts in charge of something actually know/care anything about it, it cuts funding to all kinds of programs - sacrificed on the altar of tax cuts, and once a soldier has been used up he is of no more use to the Bush Administration.

And yes, RagingBear, EVERYONE deserves better, but we are the only one who can demand it. Clearly, Americans don't care any more than the director of Walter Reed.

mick 11 years, 3 months ago

If you have ever sported a "Support Our Troops" ribbon in support of the current administration and former Congress this proves you to be a hypocrite. You can thank the current Congress that someting is finally going to be done for our troops and veterans after twelve years of Republican rule.

Ragingbear 11 years, 3 months ago

Actually, Walter Reed was a scapegoat. Basically, the government has allocated so little funding that they can barely do the bare necessities of medical care, much less do things like fixing a hole in a wall.

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