America’s MIA President

By ANN McFEATTERS

A day at Walter Reed Army Medical Center is an eye-opener — about our soldiers, our government generally and the Bush administration.

I visited the renowned hospital complex after The Washington Post ran a series of articles exposing serious problems at the center, where as many as one-fourth of our injured soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan are treated. The halls are swarming with the wounded and their families. Residential facilities for recuperating soldiers and their spouses have a long waiting list.

The Post reported that soldiers are housed in deteriorated conditions of mold, mice infestations, disrepair and inadequate facilities for amputees. Depression and post-traumatic stress syndrome are often overlooked. Nightmarish paperwork stymies even the most aggressive.

What I saw was not a lack of caring or quality medical care. But I found a soldier without his legs sent in four different directions for four forms over the course of a day. His exhausted wife, near tears, was pushing him in a wheelchair through ice.

I talked with a woman whose husband has been in and out of Walter Reed for nearly two years after losing his face in war. He sat calmly waiting for yet another surgery attempting to craft features such as a nose and a lip. His wife had nothing but praise for his plastic surgeons. But she said Walter Reed’s bureaucratic morass is unbelievable.

I saw the family of a soldier whose helicopter crashed in Afghanistan. He has badly broken legs, a cracked pelvis, a broken jaw, a collapsed lung and a punctured eardrum. Six of his teammates hovered near him, caring for his family, who had flown across the country, including his wheelchair-bound father.

His fellow soldiers said he described the pain as “intolerable” after his first surgery, but that he was more concerned about the fate of his friends. Eight did not survive. Eager to help, one of his comrades went looking for a video-game console to give him something to do. “At least his hands are OK,” he said.

There are many volunteers at Walter Reed. From Operation First Response to the Wounded Warrior Project, hundreds of people care. I saw one man wheeling a cart of new CD players and DVD players around the hospital. Volunteers say most soldiers and spouses are resilient, brave, cheerful, patriotic and optimistic.

In recent days, the commander at Walter Reed, Maj. Gen. George Weightman, and the Army’s surgeon general, Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley, have been all over TV, saying the problems at the facility are being fixed and that they are “extremely proud” of the work their staffs are doing.

But the point is that crumbling infrastructure, inhumane bureaucracy and inadequate treatment for mental disorders have been known about for years and have been permitted to continue.

The month before The Post’s series ran, a conference on “quality of life” problems faced by soldiers, their families and civilian staff at Walter Reed found a long list of “issues.” They included: inadequate convalescent-leave paperwork, resulting in soldiers not getting benefits to travel as scheduled; lack of direction for emergency family care; unequal benefits based on the locale where a soldier is injured and not on the extent of injuries; and no overall plan to help wounded warriors through their convalescence.

Other problems involved the lack of childcare, uniforms, military housing, parking, laundry facilities, recreational activities and cleanliness.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., defender of President Bush’s strategy in Iraq, nonetheless has called former defense chief Donald Rumsfeld “one of the worst secretaries of defense in history.” When Rumsfeld visited Walter Reed, did he never seek to find out what was really going on there? On Bush’s trips there to shake hands with a few soldiers, wasn’t he ever curious? When Rumsfeld and Bush were planning the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, did they never think to determine how the wounded would be helped?

Did they not know that today’s injured soldiers are dealing with far more horrific injuries than in the past because battlefield medicine keeps more of them alive?

Walter Reed is supposed to be shut down in 2011. But facilities to handle its patients have not been built, renovated or expanded. Funds may not be scarce for cool new weapons on the design board — even “Star Wars” missile-defense technology — but they are exceedingly scarce for real soldiers.

If the Army is broken, as many believe, Rumsfeld and Bush broke it. And fixing it is proving more difficult than fixing the courageous soldiers the administration sent to war and who returned home broken.

(Scripps Howard columnist Ann McFeatters has covered the White House and national politics since 1986. E-mail amcfeatters(at)hotmail.com. For more stories visit scrippsnews.com.)

Comments

  1. anthny

    The decider is just a poppet being run by the NEW WORLD ORDER.

    Yep the shit will hit the fan very soon.

    And theres’ more of us then there are of them.

    The bastards are a little afraid to make there move because of all the gun owners.

    Getting back on track the stories remind me of the movie Born on the 4th of July.

  2. JimZ

    Ray:

    …”but this nazi leader we have now hasn’t even had any attempt made against him”.

    Actually, quite a few various fruits & vegetables were hurled onto his limousine during his 2001 inaugural parade. That’s the closest that I know of! (footage of this event was shown in the movie Fahrenheit 911)

  3. Ray

    When JFK was hit, his security team had been sent on some other assignment. The similar thing happened at more than just one or two events. It’s not coincedence that these breakdowns in security seem to happen when in reality, it would be the most improbable result simply because the focus of protecting the pres, or the pentagon, or DC is priority. Not something that just happens to malfunction. That is fantasy. So when you see no body guards hanging close to a leader, he is likely a target. But I also find it amazing that all ATF People just happened to be out of thier office when the Murray Building was bombed. And Bomb Squads were near by. Like FEMA arriving at the WTC the day before the attacks to train for airplanes hitting buildings. How the air force was sent in all directions for training drills ( so they say ) and were so inept to leave ungarded airspace over Washington DC and the Pentagon? Give me a break. If NORAD was under Cheney’s command, you can only imagine what mr evil was up to. The evidence, the truth, the scam, is so visible. All needed is to open thyne eyes and see. Understand that good principals, honor to country, honest leaders, are not being applied by this administration R’s and D’s alike. The biggest secrets the world has been denied are soon to be told. This will happen soon because the world is reaching critical mass very quickly in many ways, so events will gain pace ever increasing. It is coming to a break point where something must give, kinda like revelations fortells. Beasts, famine, fire, stuff like whats going on in Palastine, Lebonon, and Iraq. Oh, almost forgot Afganastan. The big show is coming soon. Wake up peoples. See. awaken that logic chip and use it. A duck will walk like a duck, so it has to be a duck. A Politician will walk like a man so he must be a man? Then why do they not look like a Rat. If it looks like a Rat but walks like a Man, is it then Lieberman? I think it so.

  4. Supporting our troops means more that placing obtuse slogans on your SUV. It means either donating money or your time. Bush could give a damn about out troops just as you fools who ride around with your stupid slogans on your cars and neither donate time or money could care less. How many of you have taken any real action to support out troops. You are all a bunch of phony bastards. Our brave young troops deserve much more than trite slogans put on your cars. It doesn’t make you patriotic just jerks who don’t know the meaning of patriotism. The hell with you all. How many of you have been willing to die for your Country. I bet none of you with these insipid stickers on your cars. How many of you ducked the Vietnam War? I bet the majority. Real patriots don’t rely on posting slogans on their cars, they take action. Volunteer for service or get rid of your ridiculous stickers and join in ending this war now.

  5. LindaM

    I am of two minds about this. And they aren’t contradictory. First, I am outraged that those disabled vets, doing the will of the government who sent them in harm’s way, are not getting appropriate care and made to suffer even more from the bureaocracy. Our government owes them so much more.

    But, they also volunteered and most of them still support the “mission”, at least if they are willing to comment. So, I don’t feel sorry for their condition, only that it isn’t being properly treated.

    Another poster wondered why there have been no assassination attempts on Bush/Cheney. Have you been to D.C.? There are black helicopters flying over the WH, black snipers with guns on rooftops on the WH and surrounding buildings. You think they are there to protect the pres. from terrorists? I think not. Methinks it’s to protect him from the citizens of this country and others around the world who hate what has happened to the U.S. on his watch and see no end other than impeachment or assassination.

  6. Ray

    No its not far fetched, it is exactly what is happening. The patriot act, the military commissions act, are all about establishing centralized control. The neocon mentality is centered on one common theme and that is dictatorship. Featuring “The Decider”. Who, in his all mighty position takes it upon himself to vindictively remove your right to privacy, free speech,habeous corpus, speedy trial, even a phone call after violating illegal search and siezure laws. He can, at his whim, order soldiers to occupy our homes and conduct police business under martial law. KBR building or remodling existing structures into human detention centers all over the country. He will soon be forcing mandatory nation ID micro chip RF implant for everyone, thats if you want to drive a car or buy any goods or get on a plane. In other words, we’ll be forced to take the mark or be unable to function in the society. The beast you know is the new babylon, amerika. Yep Jennifer D, yer suspicions are dead on the money. Don’t be surprised if the couple months brings an event that will be the excuse to bomb Iran. Bu$$co is desparate under pressure to withdraw and he’s running out of time to make his life goal of starting WW111. Three battle groups in the gulf is not for a bluff. We don’t need to bluff anyone, all the world knows that a madman is on the loose with the biggest gun in the world. He fully intends to use that nuclear toy on Tehran. Cheney mentions it almost dailey now, that all options are on the table now. If youall got some things to do, I’d suggest ya getter done soon. The really ugly thing is that americans are walking right into the lions mouth asleep in bananaland, like under some spell that removes all intelligent thought, replaced with sawdust or fantasy dreams of “our government would’nt do that”. Hey, wanna buy a bridge? Our great leaders participated in orchastrating 911 simply to instill fear so americans would do exactly what the germans did when Hitler burned the Riechstad, Give up thier freedoms and privacy in the name of war on terror. When all the sheeples who scoff and call others conspiracy whakos realize they were had, it will be way too late. You will either be with them, or you’ll be the enemy. And now they can torture you and if you die, tough shit you terrorist!

    Welcome to Amerika Land of the Slaves.

    See how the elites are getting more and the sheeples are getting the shaft? Even our soldiers, who WE MUST SUPPORT are getting the shaft. I’ll support em, bring them the hell home and go fight your own friggin battles, GEORGE!

  7. Ladies and Gentlemen, fear is a powerful weapon and the Reich effectively utilizes it. The real reason for the wiretaps and spying on Americans is likely to be for ferreting out assassination plots against the head of the beast, not looking for terror plots. Sound far-fetched? Maybe, but, I have my suspicions. The state of current affairs in America in the 21st century almost mirrors that in Nazi Germany in WWII; Hitler had the Reichstag fire and the ‘Enabling Act’, Bush has 9-11 and the ‘Patriot Act’. Do the math folks, it’s getting mighty interesting out there.

  8. Ray

    This whole thing is a perfect example of why JFK, Martin Luther, RFK, John Lenon were gunned down, but this nazi leader we have now hasn’t even had any attempt made against him. Strange that the most hated man in the wold walks around with no worry, when the most respected do-gooders got wasted by some mind controlled patsy that never tried to get away. It is very plain to see who has been killing the good guys, is it not? One in a 100 would likely take a shot at GW but one in ten million would have never wished harm on those fallen. Obviously the turd at the top has no worry about tomarrow. Its the ones like him who deal the death sentence.

  9. JimZ

    Need to add, since the Dems have only a single vote majority in the Senate, it would be difficult to go through with. Those a-holes in the Senate like Mitch McConnell would do ANYTHING to protect their robot leader. Then Lieberman would switch parties (or not; doesn’t matter) and torpedo the vote.

    The HOUSE would be a piece of cake.

  10. JimZ

    Why is the most impeachable President in history NOT getting impeached?

    The Democrats claim it would just take too much time and effort. They just want to weaken him until the end of his term. Can you imagine the damage this administration could do when becoming a weakened caged animal for almost 2 years?

    From what I remember, it only took a week to impeach Clinton, and the whole Richard Nixon debacle only lasted a couple of months from start to finish.

  11. Arion

    Yet another case of what goes on behind the scenes. Hawks of both parties love to have a war so they can cheer the folks in uniform and have those oh-so-necessary photo shoots. But when it comes to the necessary details like insuring veterans get the care they so justly deserve, those same glad-handing politicians are nowhere to be found!

  12. JimZ

    Ray, he doesn’t give a dang about anyone making less than $10,000,000 per year. The rest, are but mere slaves and suckers to him. He sleeps good at night, too.

  13. Ray

    I read this article and these comments and then I see Bush making his big speal about how he was gonna make sure our troops in Iraq would have the best equipment and best of everything. He was putting on his best bleeding heart act as if he really had sincere feelings for those soldiers. He was just lying as usual. What an asshole. He couldn’t care less about those who he puts in harms way. He is like a snake in a wagon wheel rut. About as low as he can get

  14. gene

    When will this country and its congress wake up and impeach that son of a bitch fuck head (george w bush) and his idiot cohart cheney. He is nothing but a criminal. Cheney has made several comments about Iran over the last several days, no surprise what will happen soon. People these men are evil uncarring bastards, so nothing should shock us as we read article after article of the hell this monster has caused and continues to do so. This country is now only a shadow of its former self. I truely believe that only God can help us now. God bless you all for seeing the truth. Pleas excuse my language, I am just angry and need to vent. All those innocent lives murdered on BOTH sides.

  15. The South Point

    This is truly horrendous beyond words. People getting all messed up just so Bush and Cheney and the rest of the neocons can do their evilness routine.