USA, wounded Iraq war veterans among mice, mold, and roaches

US Iraq war wounded veterans, cartoon

From Paul Rieckhoff’s blog in the USA:

Walter Reed Hospital: Mice, Mold and Roaches (33 comments)

Believe it or not, there is other news in the world this week besides Anna Nicole Smith and Britney Spears.

But you wouldn’t know that if you are watching MSNBC or Fox today.

For the last few hours, both networks have been showing almost non-stop live coverage of the Smith trial.

More than a week after she died, the insanity continues.

The Washington Post reported Saturday that staffers responsible for managing outpatients at Walter Reed have had caseloads of more than 125 patients each.

Recovering soldiers face bureaucratic delays, overworked case managers and appalling living conditions, including black mold, cheap mattresses and cockroaches.

This news is an absolute outrage. And it’s shameful.

It is absolutely inexcusable that our wounded troops are coming home to such an unprepared and overwhelmed health care system (and please note, Walter Reed is not even a VA facility).

Responsibility for this tragedy goes straight to the top.

We at IAVA are demanding swift action from the President, Department of Defense and Congress to correct these problems.

It is disgraceful that our country has sent troops to war without ensuring adequate care for the wounded.

Disabled veterans stuck in backlog limbo: here.

8 thoughts on “USA, wounded Iraq war veterans among mice, mold, and roaches

    In Washington DC

    Message to Congress:

    Beginning March 12 in Washington DC
    (Before the March on the Pentagon on Saturday march 17)

    March 12
    begins directly in front of the Capitol Bldg in Washington DC
    March 13
    Encampment to
    End the War
    March 14
    Encampment to
    End the War
    March 15
    Encampment to
    End the War
    March 16
    Encampment to
    End the War
    March 17
    March on the

    stay in DC for
    Encampment to
    End the War
    March 18
    Encampment to
    End the War
    Encampment to
    End the War

    WHERE? on the mall directly in front of the Capitol building (3rd street between Constitution and Independence)

    WHY NOW? During the week beginning March 12, Congress will begin voting on Bush’s request for $100 billion more for the wars in Iraq and Afganistan. If Congress votes to cut off funds, they can end the war now and bring the troops home. If they approve Bush’s war funds, the killing, and dying and occupation will go on…it’s as simple as that. This vote will be the most important war related vote since Congress voted to authorized Bush to invade and occupy Iraq in October of 2002. The antiwar movement must be there to let Congress know that we won’t let them get away with it this time.

    Right now, the Troops Out Now Coalition is working with local organizers, churches and mosques, unions, and community groups to prepare for a long-term occupation of Washington by the anti-war movement. Local organizers across the U.S. are organizing buses, vans, and car caravans.

    We have a real opportunity if we act decisively–and we need your help. Please contact us by Monday, February 26 –use the “comments” section of the volunteer form to let us know:

    1. Can you come to Washington for the Encampment to Stop the War? On what day can you join the encampment? For how long? Some are planning to come for a day or two, others are staying longer.
    2. Do you have equipment that would be useful for an encampment (tents, sleeping bags, etc.)??
    3. Can you volunteer to take on a task during the encampment (logistics, medical, security, legal, transportation, etc)?
    4. If you live in the Washington DC area, do you have space for people to sleep or freshen up?


  2. [Walter Reed] *Hospital Officials Knew of Neglect*
    Posted by: “hapi22” robinsegg
    Thu Mar 1, 2007 2:51 pm (PST)

    Why do the REPUBLICANS, who have been in charge of Congress for the past
    six years, hate our soldiers who come home wounded?

    Why did the REPUBLICANS, who have been in charge of Congress for the
    past six years, never take any interest in the returning veterans?

    Why did the REPUBLICANS, who have been in charge of Congress for the
    past six years, never hold any hearings to be sure the wounded soldiers
    were getting proper care?

    Surely Rumsfeld KNEW this situation was going on within blocks of his

    Surely Cheney KNEW this situation was going on within blocks of his office.

    Surely Bush KNEW this situation was going on within blocks of his
    office. And if Bush didn’t know (to paraphrase Bush), which is worse?
    … that Bush knew and did nothing or that Bush didn’t trouble himself
    to inquire how things were going for the wounded soldiers retuning home?


    **Hospital Officials Knew of Neglect*

    Complaints About Walter Reed Were Voiced for Years*

    by Anne Hull and Dana Priest
    The Washington Post
    March 1, 2007; Page A01/

    Top officials at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, including the
    Army’s surgeon general, have heard complaints about outpatient neglect
    from family members, veterans groups and members of Congress for MORE

    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.

    Steve Robinson, director of veterans affairs at Veterans for America,
    said he ran into Kiley in the foyer of the command headquarters at
    Walter Reed shortly after the Iraq war began and told him that “there
    are people in the barracks who are drinking themselves to death and
    people who are sharing drugs and people NOT getting the care they need.”

    “I met guys who weren’t going to appointments because the hospital
    didn’t even know they were there,” Robinson said. Kiley told him to
    speak to a sergeant major, a top enlisted officer.

    A recent Washington Post series detailed conditions at Walter Reed,
    including those at Building 18, a dingy former hotel on Georgia Avenue
    where the wounded were housed among mice, mold, rot and cockroaches.

    Kiley lives across the street from Building 18. From his quarters, he
    can see the scrappy building and busy traffic the soldiers must cross to
    get to the 113-acre post. At a news conference last week, Kiley, who
    declined several requests for interviews for this article, said that the
    problems of Building 18 “weren’t serious and there weren’t a lot of
    them.” He also said they were not “emblematic of a process of Walter
    Reed that has abandoned soldiers and their families.”

    But according to interviews, Kiley, his successive commanders at Walter
    Reed and various top noncommissioned officers in charge of soldiers’
    lives have heard a stream of complaints about outpatient treatment over
    the past several years. The complaints have surfaced at town hall
    meetings for staff and soldiers, at commanders’ “sensing sessions” in
    which soldiers or officers are encouraged to speak freely, and in
    several inspector general’s reports detailing building conditions,
    safety issues and other matters.

    Retired Maj. Gen. Kenneth L. Farmer Jr., who commanded Walter Reed for
    two years until last August, said that he was aware of outpatient
    problems and that there were “ongoing reviews and discussions” about how
    to fix them when he left. He said he shared many of those issues with
    Kiley, his immediate commander. Last summer when he turned over command
    to Maj. Gen. George W. Weightman, Farmer said, “there were a variety of
    things we identified as opportunities for continued improvement.”

    [NOTE FROM ME: Yeah, like “fix the damn holes in the ceilings, and
    put some traps around for the rats and cockroaches.” The army OUGHT
    to be able to do at least that.]

    In 2004, Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R-Fla.) and his wife stopped visiting the
    wounded at Walter Reed out of frustration. Young said he voiced concerns
    to commanders over troubling incidents he witnessed but was rebuffed or
    ignored. “When Bev or I would bring problems to the attention of
    authorities of Walter Reed, we were made to feel very uncomfortable,”
    said Young, who began visiting the wounded recuperating at other facilities.

    Beverly Young said she complained to Kiley several times. She once
    visited a soldier who was lying in urine on his mattress pad in the
    hospital. When a nurse ignored her, Young said, “I went flying down to
    Kevin Kiley’s office again, and got nowhere. He has skirted this stuff
    for five years and blamed everyone else.”

    Young said that even after Kiley left Walter Reed to become the Army’s
    surgeon general, “if anything could have been done to correct problems,
    he could have done it.”

    Soldiers and family members say their complaints have been ignored by
    commanders at many levels.

    More than a year ago, Chief Warrant Officer Jayson Kendrick, an
    outpatient, attended a sensing session, the Army’s version of a town
    hall meeting where concerns are raised in front of the chain of command.
    Kendrick spoke about the deterioration and crowded conditions of the
    outpatient administrative building, which had secondhand computers and
    office furniture shoved into cubicles, creating chaos for family
    members. An inspector general attending the meeting “chuckled and said,
    ‘What do you want, pool tables and Ping-Pong tables in there?’ ”
    Kendrick recalled.

    Army officials have been at other meetings in which outpatient problems
    were detailed.

    On Feb. 17, 2005, Kiley sat in a congressional hearing room as Sgt. 1st
    Class John Allen, injured in Afghanistan in 2002, described what he
    called a “dysfunctional system” at Walter Reed in which “soldiers go
    months without pay, nowhere to live, their medical appointments
    canceled.” Allen added: “The result is a massive stress and mental pain
    causing further harm. It would be very easy to correct the situation if
    the command element climate supported it. The command staff at Walter
    Reed needs to show their care.”

    In 2006, Joe Wilson, a clinical social worker in the department of
    psychiatry, briefed several colonels at Walter Reed about problems and
    steps that could be taken to improve living conditions at Building 18.
    Last March, he also shared the findings of a survey his department had

    It found that 75 percent of outpatients said their experience at Walter
    Reed had been “stressful” and that there was a “significant population
    of unsatisfied, frustrated, disenfranchised patients.” Military
    commanders played down the findings.

    “These people knew about it,” Wilson said. “The bottom line is, people
    knew about it but the culture of the Army didn’t allow it to be addressed.”

    Last October, Joyce Rumsfeld, the wife of then-Defense Secretary Donald
    H. Rumsfeld, was taken to Walter Reed by a friend concerned about
    outpatient treatment. She attended a weekly meeting, called Girls Time
    Out, at which wives, girlfriends and mothers of soldiers exchange
    stories and offer support.

    According to three people who attended the gathering, Rumsfeld listened
    quietly. Some of the women did not know who she was. At the end of the
    meeting, Rumsfeld asked one of the staff members whether she thought
    that the soldiers her husband was meeting on his visits had been
    handpicked to paint a rosy picture of their time there. The answer was yes.

    [NOTE FROM ME: And yet, NOTHING was done even then. Did Rumsfeld’s
    wife not tell her husband? … or, more likely, she did but Don
    didn’t give a damn.]

    When Walter Reed officials found out that Rumsfeld had visited, they
    told the friend who brought her — a woman who had volunteered there
    many times — that she was no longer welcome on the grounds.

    Last week, the Army relieved of duty several LOW-ranking soldiers who
    managed outpatients. 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.

    Yesterday, Walter Reed received an unscheduled inspection by a hospital
    accreditation agency. Members of the Joint Commission, formerly the
    Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, began a
    two-day visit “for cause” to examine discharge practices that have
    allowed soldiers to go missing or unaccounted for after they are
    released from the hospital.

    Read this at:


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