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Walter Reed General sacked over shoddy conditions

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March 2, 2007

The head of the U.S. Army’s top hospital was removed from his post on Thursday after troops wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan were found to be living in shoddy conditions and struggling with a complex bureaucracy.

An Army statement said top officials had lost confidence in Maj. Gen. George Weightman’s ability “to address needed solutions for soldier outpatient care” at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

“The care and welfare of our wounded men and women in uniform demand the highest standard of excellence and commitment that we can muster as a government,” said Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

“When this standard is not met, I will insist on swift and direct corrective action and, where appropriate, accountability up the chain of command,” he said in a statement.

Problems at the hospital were brought to light by a Washington Post investigation published last month. It found that recuperating soldiers were living in a dilapidated building infested with mice, mold and cockroaches.

The newspaper also found wounded troops forced to untangle a web of bureaucratic red tape to obtain benefits and treatment as they coped with physical and psychological trauma.

Government investigators found the typical soldier must file 22 documents with eight different commands to enter and exit the medical processing system, the Post reported.

The Army has said it has already fixed many of the problems with the substandard building and is working to quickly improve its administrative procedures.

REVIEW ORDERED

But Gates pledged last week that commanders would be held accountable for failings at the hospital. He also ordered an independent review into outpatient care of wounded troops.

The Army said Weightman had been relieved of command at 10 a.m. and its surgeon-general, Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley, would take temporary charge of Walter Reed.

Several lower-ranking people at the hospital have also been relieved of their duties, Gates said last week.

President George W. Bush’s administration has frequently praised U.S. troops for their sacrifices and insisted they will have the best possible treatment. But Democrats said the government had failed to provide adequate care.

“This administration has consistently underestimated the resources that are needed to support our veterans,” said presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama, who has introduced legislation to improve care for wounded soldiers.

Sen. Jack Reed, who served as a captain in the U.S. Army, said after a closed-door meeting of senators with Gates that Weightman’s removal was not enough on its own.

“I think they have to go further in terms of establishing responsibility,” said Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat. “It’s not just about firing individuals, its about fixing the problem.”

Outpatients at Walter Reed are mainly troops who have received initial medical care but require further treatment before they can go home or return to duty. The average outpatient stay lasts 10 months, the Washington Post said.

More than 10,000 U.S. troops in the Iraq war and more than 600 involved in the Afghan conflict have been wounded so seriously that they were not able to return to duty within 72 hours, according to Pentagon statistics.

Copyright © 2007 Reuters Limited

14 Responses to Walter Reed General sacked over shoddy conditions

  1. Sonorous Pest

    March 2, 2007 at 6:43 pm

    Are Vets deserve the very best care WE can give them, right Bush? Then why in the hell are you cutting the vets benefits? You are one horse’s Ass. I for one can’t wait until your ass is out of work.

  2. J. Green

    March 2, 2007 at 6:51 pm

    What was the purpose of firing Maj Gen Weightman, who had only been on the job for six months. What has Bush accomplsihed during the past five years he’s been in office???? Gen. Weightman was used as a scapgoat.

  3. whatever

    March 2, 2007 at 7:28 pm

    Randy Rhodes Air America stated yesterday that Rumsfeld himself knew about the conditions for quite a while, possibly back to 2003. A volunteer who knows Rumsfeld’s wife asked her to visit the hospital because she was very disgusted. Mrs. Rumsfeld went, saw the conditions for herself, and asked her husband if he was cherry-picking disabled vets. for photo-ops. “Yes” was his reply. You know what happened to the volunteer? She was told her services were no longer needed and she was not to step foot in the hospital again.

  4. kate

    March 3, 2007 at 12:15 am

    Does the term Scapegoat come into play here?

  5. Carl Nemo

    March 3, 2007 at 3:24 am

    “Gates said Harvey had resigned, but senior defense officials speaking on condition of anonymity said Gates had privately demanded that Harvey leave. Gates was displeased that the officer Harvey had chosen as interim commander of Walter Reed — Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley, the current Army surgeon general and a former commander of Walter Reed — has been accused by critics of long knowing about the problems there and not improving outpatient care.”… Courtesy of Yahoo News

    **************************************

    I’m impressed with Dr. Gate’s performance concerning the hospital debacle. He didn’t take the expedient way out by letting the good ol’ boys quickly plug the holes and then go on business as usual. He didn’t care for Kiley’s track record so it reflected upon Harvey’s decision making ability; ergo he gave him his marching orders. Good move and it indicates to me he has “the right stuff”! It also means he isn’t clearing “everything” with the Bushistas. He seems to be responsible conerning his back-tracking on the Iranian nuclear intelligence debacle too. Who knows he may not last long since he doesn’t seem to fit the ugly Bushista mold that we’ve witnessed for the past 6+ years. I’ll supply some links concerning Dr. Gates background etc. He did a stint in the Air Force so at least he’s paid his military dues. Everyone doesn’t have to have an M16 in their hands slugging it out in the triple canopy or the urban jungle to be considered a bonafide veteran. For every active combat person, there’s at least 10 support personnel. So to me he’s well-balanced and superbly qualified for Secretary of Defense.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070303/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/walter_reed

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/11/08/AR2006110801589.html

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Gates

    Btw, I’m well aware that he’s CFR, connected, and linked to Iran/Contra, but we can’t have everything folks. He may just represent a crack in the PNAC, neocon monolith that’s shadowed this once great nation for the past 6+ years. God forbid, they may have a principled man in their midst…! :0

  6. Dionysis

    March 2, 2007 at 3:32 pm

    He should have been removed before now; and the interim head should be removed right away as well. He’s known about the conditions for over a year and did nothing, and recently blasted the press and defended the indefensible.

    And Jason Shapiro’s comments are right on target. The whole lot of these lying, incompetent vermin needs to be fumigated.

  7. Jason Shapiro

    March 2, 2007 at 2:04 pm

    Now, if they would just keep on moving all the way up the chain of command and sack everyone whose incompetent, negligent, and shoddy performance has jeopardized the needs and safety of our servicemen and servicewomen we’d actually be making some progress.

  8. Sandy Price

    March 2, 2007 at 11:30 am

    Secretary of Defense Gates may be a winner! This is a good trend and I hope it continues to weed out some of the problems that seem to be growing rapidly under Commander Bush.

  9. Joe Lawrence

    March 2, 2007 at 3:53 pm

    THIS JUST IN!!!!!

    Lowest ranking, newest general relieved of command! (After 6 months on the job.)

    In other news:

    Mold, rats, holes in the walls, bad food, overwhelming paperwork and broken elevators are said by “some scientists” to require more than 6 months to fully develop.

  10. Lexie Homewood

    March 2, 2007 at 4:02 pm

    My understanding is that General Kiley has replaced General Weightman, who had been on the job about six months. General Kiley had been in charge for a t least a couple of years prior to that.

    If I remember correctly some of the news broadcasts on this miserable situation, this problem in Building 18 has been ongoing for at least three years, certainly while under the control of General Kiley. Also, General Kiley is the dirtbag who was on the news a couple of days ago, minimizing the problem and saying that the pests in the rooms were the RESULT OF RESIDENTS’ LEAVING FOOD LYING AROUND!!!

    I’m so glad that the Army in its infinite wisdom has seen fit to replace General Weightman with the man who presided over the same terrible conditions before, and who is taking the “blame the victim” approach to boot!

  11. JimZ

    March 2, 2007 at 5:01 pm

    Lexie – If what you say is correct about Kiley was in charge before Weightman for a couple of years, then HE bears some, if not most of the responsibility.

    Once again, in Bu$hCo, NEVER fire those responsible; you fire the ones in your way, or that speak out.

  12. Judy

    March 2, 2007 at 6:28 pm

    The Veterans spokesman (I’ve forgotten his name but he was formerly with the RNC) who was appointed by Bush..where is he? What is he doing to see that these wounded vets get proper & expedient help with their injuries?? He and everyone else that could prevent these disgusting delays and abhorant facility conditions should be called on the carpet and made to answer. There is absolutely NO room for party politics in this apalling situation. ALL of our veterans deserve and have earned better treatment.

  13. Roger Sutton

    March 2, 2007 at 6:36 pm

    We now have the fox guarding the henhouse. Kiley’s first order appears to have been that wounded vets are not to speak to the media. Let’s just keep quiet and the public will forget.

    Roger Sutton

  14. Sonorous Pest

    March 2, 2007 at 6:42 pm

    Are Vets deserve the very best care WE can give them, right Bush? Then why in the hell are you cutting the vets benefits? You are one horse’s Ass. I for one cant\’t wait until your ass is out of work.