Gates promises changes at Walter Reed hospital

Defense Secretary Robert M.Gates took a personal look at Walter Reed Army Hospital’s outpatient care today and declared conditions there “unacceptable.”

Gates said “a number” of those responsible for the deplorable conditions at the hospital have been relieved of duties.

“This is unacceptable and will not continue,” Gates declared.

Reports William Branigin of The Washington Post:

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates today announced the formation of an independent panel to look into what he called an “unacceptable situation” with outpatient care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and he vowed that those responsible will be held accountable.

Some people who were “directly involved” in the problems at the Washington, D.C., complex already have been relieved of their duties, Gates disclosed, but he did not elaborate.

In a news briefing after touring the facility and speaking to wounded soldiers there, Gates said he was “dismayed” to learn from a Washington Post series published Sunday and Monday that some injured troops have not been receiving “the best possible treatment at all stages of their recovery.”

The Post found recovering soldiers living in squalid conditions in Building 18, a decrepit former hotel just outside the Walter Reed grounds, with some of the quarters plagued by mold, rot and vermin. The series also documented a larger issue of bureaucratic indifference that soldiers and family members said had demoralized them and impeded recovery.

Gates declared today, “This is unacceptable, and it will not continue.” He said he briefed President Bush this morning on the situation and described him as “understandably concerned and emphatic in wanting the best possible care for our wounded soldiers and for their families.”

Noting that the recovering soldiers have paid a high price for defending the nation, Gates said, “They should not have to recuperate in substandard housing, nor should they be expected to tackle mountains of paperwork and bureaucratic processes. . . . They battled our foreign enemies; they should not have to battle an American bureaucracy.”

Gates announced the formation of what he called “an independent review group” consisting of eight military, medical and political leaders to “take a broad look at all our rehabilitative care and administrative processes here at Walter Reed and at the National Naval Medical Center” in nearby Bethesda, Md.

He said the group would be co-chaired by Togo D. West Jr., former secretary of veterans affairs and secretary of the Army under President Bill Clinton, and John O. “Jack” Marsh Jr., former secretary of the Army under President Ronald Reagan and a former member of Congress from Virginia. Other members include two other former members of Congress from the Republican and Democratic parties, three retired senior military officers and a retired command sergeant major.


  1. JimZ

    Wow. You all arn’t going to believe this, but Ron Paul got 5-10 minutes uninterrupted EXPOSURE on CNN on Lou Dobbs Tonight, tonight. He is such a straight talker/shooter. No wonder why the NWO marginalizes him.

    He said everything he has always stood for, all sounding common sense, just like he always has.

    When I lived in Austin, TX, every time Ron Paul was running for office the negative TV ads were ugly. “Ron Paul, Bad For Texas”, blah blah. And that came from his own party sometimes.

    I find most information on Ron Paul at They have his articles he writes.

  2. SEAL

    This is just another example of the callus nature of the thuglicans in charge. They got caught. So, they do what they always do – plead ignorance, punish people who were only following orders (like the Abu prisoner abuse), and make a dramatic show of fixing the problem. It is never their fault.

    I suspect that a great part of the reason for the deplorable conditions in this case can be attributed to the new military system that has evolved under Cheney’s brainchild he developed while at Halliburton. About half of our actual military system is now contractors that perform the duties Army, Navy, and Marines used to perform. Most people think, because they have been told, that all the contractors do is the cooking, laundry, transportation, cleaning, and general services. The image is that they are a minor part of the overall system. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    Contractors are involved at almost every level of the military’s operations. Intelligence gathering and anylization. Sentry duty. Providing convoy and facility protection. They shoot and kill just like any soldier. We are told there are 130,000 troops in Iraq. But, when you add the contractors, the number is aproximately 250,000 troops in Iraq. And the Iraqis can’t tell the difference. They look the same and do the same. The only difference is they are paid 10 to 100 times more than the soldier. And they can quit anytime they like.

    But, back to WR, I imagine the bulk of the services for the patients and the upkeep of the facillities are contracted. Employees not conditioned or subject to normal military routine or responsibility. Actual military personnel would never let conditions, as described, exist. Clean and order are the normal way of military life. Any lowly private would automatically clean the room to keep from getting in trouble. Any sargent would make sure it was done before the captain came by. That’s the military. Therefore, I must believe the conditions are due to the system of contracting our military.

    In the war zone, this could be viewed as an army of mercenaries by the Iraqis and others in the region. To be feared as not subject to the same standards or controls as the regular army soldier.

    Also, my information is that as many as 1000 of them have been killed and who knows how many wounded since the war began which would dramatically change the numbers being fed to the general public.

    I have noticed that the percentage of hired soldiers has increased in direct proportion to the decrease in enlistment. That, of course, causes an increase in the war budget since “contractors” are paid so much more than enlistees. You can imagine how the corporal feels in the transportation section (motor pool) about the difference in pay between himself and a contractor for doing the same job such as driving a truck.

    So, the reality is that the thuglicans have a quarter million troops in Iraq, half or which are highly paid janitors and cooks and gunslingers not subject to ALL military standards. Reminds me of some of the history I read years ago. For example, the British used hired militia in our revolutionary war. That’s an interesting parallel.

  3. The South Point

    Yeah, yeah, yeah…

    But what about the “deplorable conditions” of the illegal and immoral war against Iraq and Afghanistan which is causing this in the first place?


  4. Glad to see that Dubbya is right on top of things and knew all about this. Pretty sad that Rumsfeld, Cheney nor the Pres. were aware of this. Don’t know if I buy that story. can send the kids over but seems to forget about the consequences.

  5. Ray

    And you can be sure that the cost of fixing the problem will be way more than it should be and that cost of course will be on the taxpayer, not the contractor or officer responsible. The story will be used as propaganda like always. The theme of this story could be played out a thousand times if all reporters were as daring as the one who exposed this latest farce of incompetence by those in charge.

  6. Jerry

    Gates “vowed that those responsible will be held accountable.”

    Now why do I doubt that?

    Rumsfeld is gone and I betya he’ll also be forgotten when it comes time to assign blame.

  7. Does the name Jim Nicholson ring a bell these days? He was the head honcho to the Bush Administration’s Republican National Committee. He put the pressure on the religious right to force several changes within the GOP. Jim completely ignored the Republican Agenda of limited government and individual freedoms and was not a representative of any other part of the GOP.

    Is this not the same Jim Nicholson who is heading “Veteran’s Affairs” or some such title and is he not the one responsible for the terrible conditions found in the Building 18 part of Walter Reed Hospital? He is simply an appointed excuse for Bush making bad choices.

    We see these men put into very high-paying jobs and put them on the tax payer’s payroll and get digusted when they cannot even keep those men under their care, clean!

    Who else will Bush hand over more responsibility and then we discover they are not what they were sold to us? Is there any Republican left in D.C. who is free from corruption? Apparently not!

  8. Ray

    Is Ron Paul Republican? He is free of corruption and has the record to prove he is honest. Too bad it takes so much ass kissing and mega dollars to launch a campaign. Only the corrupt and dirty liars get the support, the media makes sure of that. Nope, you have to be IN with the slimballs to have a chance. It’s no wonder we haven’t had a real leader for decades now. We now get to pick one of two slimballs and have to base our pick on the least slimy past and most convincing lies. Amerika!

  9. JimZ

    Ron Paul get ZERO exposure in the CorpoMedia. When I lived in Texas, you heard about him but outside of there, he gets no traction.

    I have actually watched C-Span when Ron Paul got up to do a speech and as soon as he started talking they broke off to another report. Just a coincidence?

    You don’t think C-Span is politicized too? (I’m chuckling)

  10. Kent Shaw

    It is not just Walter Reed. It is VA system wide. They are desperately trying to hide it but it will all come out in the end. Despicable. Beneath contempt.