Thursday, March 01, 2007

What is the truth at Walter Reed?

Another Washington Post article Hospital Officials Knew Of Neglect, Complaints About Walter Reed Were Voiced for Years" By Anne Hull and Dana Priest, Washington Post Staff Writers” was published 1 March. In this article the authors point out the issue that Walter Reed Officials – particularly Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley, who is now the Army's top medical officer, knew of the poor conditions found at Walter Reed.

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.”

I wondered how a Commander did not know about the conditions as LT. Gen Kiley has stated since the original articles were published. Call me skeptical – I am sure neither side’s picture of conditions (either horrible or not too bad) are completely accurate. However any commander is in charge and responsible for organization performance, facilities, processes, and attitude. If it is half as bad as the Washington Post tells us and Lt Gen Kiley knew about it and buried the issue – he does not follow Army Values as I know them and should be held accountable.

He should be given a fair venue to address the issue and he should be made to do so. It seems unlikely that he completely did not acknowledge the conditions his soldiers were subjected to – one look at Building 18 from the street shows a poorly maintained exterior at least. He may have worked within the resources he had…. We should hear the truth because the Washington Post version paints a portrait of a callous and unfit commander. A good commander must be a little more inquisitive and seek every method to improve conditions.

To get at the root cause and effect repair the Army should hold all accountable for their actions. Last week, the Army relieved of duty several low-ranking soldiers who managed outpatients. But they worked for a commander in a climate that allowed problems to go untreated.

Finally – typical Army reaction

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.

This is unacceptable – this will not get to the truth and punishes the victims.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Strange that the current Cdr at Walter Reed (has only been in place for 6 months/since Aug 2006) was relieved, and yet LTG Kiley, who presided over the entirety of this mess hasn't apparently been removed or punished. The problems were rampant during his tenure as Cdr there and since his being appointed as Army Surgeon General; this would lead me to believe that he bears the largest share of responsibility. Coupled with Kiley's poor attempt last week to show reporters the "great improvements" in Bldg 18 - overnight still wet paint jobs over moldy walls - and the now published information that the wounded soldiers - now under his leadership - are being forced to stand morning room inspections seems like a travesty of leadership to me. They have shot the messenger and blamed the innocent. LTG Kiley needs to take responsibility for his own actions and stop looking in other places to place the blame! THAT would be showing leadership.