A top army general blamed “a breakdown in leadership” for poor living conditions of wounded soldiers at the US Army’s renowned Walter Reed Medical Center.
But General Richard Cody, vice chief of staff of the army, said no one has been relieved of command or disciplined since the problems were exposed over the weekend by The Washington Post.
“Clearly, we’ve had a breakdown in leadership and bureaucratic, medical and contractual processes dogged down a speedy solution to these problems,” Cody said at a Pentagon news conference.
The Post said convalescing soldiers in one army building were living in rooms with mold covered walls, holes in the ceiling and infestations of rodents and cockroaches.
The series set off a furor with the White House expressing shock and lawmakers demanding action.
Cody said he inspected Building 18, where 76 service members are housed, and found that their rooms ranged from “being very good to not being good.”
They were well furnished, he said. “But the upkeep of the infrastructure, the walls and stuff, wasn’t up to speed,” he said.
The general attributed the lapse in standards to officers who were inexperienced and too low-ranking for the job they had.
He said “appropriate actions” have been taken but said no one has been relieved of command or fired.
“We will do the right thing across the board as we continue to assess where the leadership failure and breakdowns were,” he said.
Cody said the army also is reviewing its procedures for handling wounded soldiers and their families, following complaints of bureaucratic red tape.
The Pentagon is setting up a separate independent group to review practices at both Walter Reed and the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, which also treats wounded service members.
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