Walter Reed Not the Only Hospital Providing Substandard Care

If the Bush Administration thought that Walter Reed is the only veterans hospital needing fixing, it's in for a huge awakening. In the aftermath of the publicity about the deficient conditions at Reed, soldiers elsewhere are weighing in, with similar stories about treatment across the country.

Stories of neglect and substandard care have flooded in from soldiers, their family members, veterans, doctors and nurses working inside the system. They describe depressing living conditions for outpatients at other military bases around the country, from Fort Lewis in Washington state to Fort Dix in New Jersey. They tell stories -- their own versions, not verified -- of callous responses to combat stress and a system ill equipped to handle another generation of psychologically scarred vets.

...much deeper [than Reed] has been the reaction outside Washington, including from many of the 600,000 new veterans who left the service after Iraq and Afghanistan. Wrenching questions have dominated blogs, talk shows, editorial cartoons, VFW spaghetti suppers and the solitary late nights of soldiers and former soldiers who fire off e-mails to reporters, members of Congress and the White House -- looking, finally, for attention and solutions.

The hearings that begin Monday come none too soon. They need to be expanded. We trusted the Government to treat our returning wounded soldiers with the best care possible. This is just such an outrage.

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    Drowned in the bathtub (none / 0) (#1)
    by scarshapedstar on Mon Mar 05, 2007 at 12:25:10 AM EST
    Is anyone else getting the sneaking suspicion that Bush's grand response will be cut out all the "inefficient bureaucrats" and privatize the VA? I'm sure Halliburton will be willing to take it over.

    But (none / 0) (#2)
    by squeaky on Mon Mar 05, 2007 at 12:36:42 AM EST
    I thought that was a big part of the problem.

    Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) "is challenging the Pentagon, which is attempting to block the former chief of Walter Reed Army Medical Center from testifying before Congress next week." Waxman wants to ask Maj. Gen. George Weightman about a contract to manage the medical center awarded to a company that had documented troubles fulfilling a contract to aid Hurricane Katrina victims. Waxman's staff has confirmed the congressman has issued his first subpoena to legally compel Weightman's testimony.  

    think progress


    Denver's VA (none / 0) (#3)
    by Domino on Mon Mar 05, 2007 at 12:45:31 AM EST
    It failed an inspection about a year back.  I walked through because I had time on my hand before an appointment at a nearby hospital.  There was equipment stored in the hallways on the floor.  I did not see walls falling down, but it was not the cleanest hospital I have been in (and I have been in too many.)

    HOMELESS IRAQ WAR VETS (none / 0) (#4)
    by SuppotTheVets on Mon Mar 05, 2007 at 07:21:53 AM EST
    With over 400,000 veterans waiting for "decisions" on their disability benefits, is it any wonder why we now have over 1000 HOMELESS  Iraq war vets?

    If you havent seen the film called WHEN I CAME HOME - watch the 1-minute trailer at:


    Support the Vets!

    Those pesky bad apples again. (none / 0) (#5)
    by Che's Lounge on Mon Mar 05, 2007 at 08:01:42 AM EST

    With this track record (none / 0) (#6)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Mon Mar 05, 2007 at 08:32:13 AM EST

    With this track record you would have to be nuts to let the feds run unviersal health care.

    You'd have to be nuts..... (none / 0) (#7)
    by kdog on Mon Mar 05, 2007 at 08:43:29 AM EST
    to let these bastards run a lemonade stand.

    Single-payer (none / 0) (#8)
    by sphealey on Mon Mar 05, 2007 at 09:08:56 AM EST
    > With this track record you would
    >  have to be nuts to let the feds run
    >  unviersal health care.

    Yes, it is fortunate that the proposals currently on the table are modeled after Germany's very successful single-payer/private providers system, rather than the UK's National Health or Canada's hybrid systems.  There were some good reasons why the UK tried National Health in the 1940s/50s, and there were some substantial benefits for the millions who had never had health care, but we now know that as a system National Health is not optimal.  Hence single payer as in Germany.



    Yes Amir (none / 0) (#9)
    by Che's Lounge on Mon Mar 05, 2007 at 11:26:59 AM EST
    You delusional RWNJ's blame the government for the actions of privatizing war profiteers. The military used to be an efficient organization. Now it's a mess, and that is directly attributable to the increasing outsourcing of services. Same as in Iraq

    At least with a government run system there is some oversight, any oversight, versus NO oversight, except the oversight of mega profits moving smoothly from your pocketbook to the pockets of the Sec. of the Army (a civilian position most recently occupied by a Carlylse Group insider).

    The "government" that is failing you is the Bush administration, and you play right into their hands.

    Get your facts straight before you spout off with your Republican-fed, libertarian BS talking points.

    Zat so (none / 0) (#11)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Mon Mar 05, 2007 at 01:18:35 PM EST
    My dad, uncles, and most aunts served in WWII.  None of them ever wanted to get near a VA hospital.  VA hospitals have had problems through all administrations.  

    It makes perfect sense as the VA patients are not customers, but costs.  In any medical system I very much want to be viewed as a customer that can take my business elsewhere.

    BTW, I packed in 14 years of active duty in 1979 (Carter admin, Dem congress) as my beautiful bride wanted no part of military hospitals for our soon to arrive bundle of joy.  She and I and many of our military friends have first hand horror stories about the treatment you get in government run hospitals.  No outsourcing then.  The difference is now those with responsibility for quality care get to blame a contractor, where before they blamed budget constraints.  Same crappy service, just new lame excuses.  


    And history repeats itself, appalling! (none / 0) (#10)
    by Aaron on Mon Mar 05, 2007 at 01:03:12 PM EST
    This is like a replay of the Vietnam era, discarding our people after they've served their country with bravery and honor.  My uncle was in the First Cavalry Division from 68 to 71, he was wounded though luckily not seriously. He had his difficulties with VA hospitals I remember. I'm sure he would be disgusted to see this happening all over again.

    My uncle came back a changed person from his experiences.  He had a great deal of difficulty maintaining a balanced existence throughout the rest of his life, he died of cancer in 2002.

    [The scandal has reverberated through generations of veterans. "It's been a potent reminder of past indignities and past traumas," said Thomas A. Mellman, a professor of psychiatry at Howard University who specializes in post-traumatic stress and has worked in Veterans Affairs hospitals. "The fact that it's been responded to so quickly has created mixed feelings -- gratification, but obvious regret and anger that such attention wasn't given before, especially for Vietnam veterans."]

    [Sandy Karen was horrified when her 21-year-old son was discharged from the Naval Medical Center in San Diego a few months ago and told to report to the outpatient barracks, only to find the room swarming with fruit flies, trash overflowing and a syringe on the table. "The staff sergeant says, 'Here are your linens' to my son, who can't even stand up," said Karen, of Brookeville, Md. "This kid has an open wound, and I'm going to put him in a room with fruit flies?" She took her son to a hotel instead.]

    [At the sprawling James J. Peters VA Medical Center in the Bronx, N.Y., Spec. Roberto Reyes Jr. lies nearly immobile and unable to talk. Once a strapping member of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry, Reyes got too close to an improvised explosive device in Iraq and was sent to Walter Reed, where doctors did all they could before shipping him to the VA for the remainder of his life. A cloudy bag of urine hangs from his wheelchair. His mother and his aunt are constant bedside companions; Reyes, 25, likes for them to get two inches from his face, so he can pull on their noses with the few fingers he can still control.

    Maria Mendez, his aunt, complained about the hospital staff. "They fight over who's going to have to give him a bath -- in front of him!" she said. Reyes suffered third-degree burns on his leg when a nurse left him in a shower unattended. He was unable to move himself away from the scalding water. His aunt found out only later, when she saw the burns.]  

    Amir (none / 0) (#12)
    by Che's Lounge on Mon Mar 05, 2007 at 01:44:09 PM EST
    Well I gues instead of fixing the problem they try to make money off of it.

    BTW I worked 3 years as a civilian contractor for the Navy, and Balboa Hospital gave excellent care. The military personnel were totally dedicated to their work. Yet the weakest workers were the employees of the outsoucing companies, like Spectrum Healthcare Resources, based in CO. They hired unqualified people for lousy wages (you get what you pay for).

    Walter Reed is not the only government building that needs some cockroaches killed. You get your tax cuts and these are the consequences. We build worthless joint strike fighters, and these are the consequences. It's not about the system. It's about allocation and profit.

    You want to tear it all down? So would I, but that's not realistic, is it? So, what you gonna do vet? Keep voting for the profiteers? Keep avoiding the VA? How patriotic is THAT?

    BTW Amir (none / 0) (#13)
    by Che's Lounge on Mon Mar 05, 2007 at 01:46:44 PM EST
    If you want to sue a government contractor over poor medical care, I wish you luck. But you'll have to wait for the hysterical laughing to die down first.

    Just as easy as sueing the VA (none / 0) (#15)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Mon Mar 05, 2007 at 03:10:49 PM EST
    Hahahahaha  Thats in large part because you are not that private contractor's customer.  If you are a customer you can sue for not getting what you paid for.  If you are a supplicant, tough luck.  

    Oops (none / 0) (#14)
    by Che's Lounge on Mon Mar 05, 2007 at 02:04:15 PM EST
    Spectrum is based n MO, not CO. Personally, I took a 13K/yr pay cut to work for them in the same job I was doing privately. But my new boss (a Captain) was one of the fairest, nicest, most authoritative, best skilled surgeons I have ever worked with. He was career Navy.

    I guess I point this out to remind us all that it's not about the front line personnel (which, in all fairness, no one here has impugned), or the military at all. They are the best. It's about the greedy Privateers who suckle on the teat of our taxes. We need to take our government back from these traitors. The whole "war on terror" is contrived to further their largesse.

    Again (none / 0) (#16)
    by Che's Lounge on Mon Mar 05, 2007 at 03:11:32 PM EST
    It's not about substandard care, as the title of the article implies. Rather it is the lack of proper command and control, allocation of funds, and privatization. The people providing the so-called substandard care are not substandard.

    Its all about substandard care (none / 0) (#17)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Mon Mar 05, 2007 at 09:48:17 PM EST
     Rather it is the lack of proper command and control, allocation of funds, and privatization.  

    Are you on drugs? the congress critters got what they paid for.  Money to the district, and civilian jobs (privitazation) dependent on their political skills to keep the cash flowing.  The customer's needs were met.  As long as the federal funds flow to the district, that is proper allocation of funds.  At least from the political point of view.