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MStuart
03-05-2007, 02:45 PM
While the support (or, lack of) our troops have been getting from Walter Reed, as exposed in the recent news stories, should make some of us sick to our stomach's, it's not surprising that Army officials and Congress are now "apalled". Having spent 20 years in service to my country, it's the military way.....usually after something like this gets widespread news coverage. ---Mark
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Witness slams 'nightmares' of Army medical system

Story Highlights• NEW: Hospital's fired ex-commander testifies before House panel

• NEW: Army surgeon general apologizes
• NEW: Cheney: "There will be no excuses, only action"
• House panel holds hearing on poor conditions at top Army hospital

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Witnesses told a House panel Monday that wounded U.S. soldiers are forced to struggle against a nightmarish and untrustworthy Army medical system which leaves veterans stranded in unfit conditions.

Two Iraq war veterans and the wife of a third gave heartbreaking, at times stunning, tales of neglect at the now notorious Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

The panel was convened in the wake of a scandal triggered by The Washington Post's detailing of problems at the hospital.

Annette McLeod, wife of Cpl. Wendell McLeod, who received an injury to his head in the war, said her husband "has been through the nightmares of the Army medical system.

"I'm glad that you care about what happened to my husband after he was injured in the line of duty. Because for a long time, it seemed like I was the only one who cared. Certainly, the Army didn't care. I didn't even find out that he was injured until he called me himself from a hospital in New Jersey."

"This is how we treat our soldiers -- we give them nothing," she said. "They're good enough to go and sacrifice their life, and we give them nothing. You need to fix the system."

A series of stories in The Washington Post in February documented a variety of problems at "Building 18," a one-time motel converted to a long-term outpatient dormitory at the Washington hospital. The newspaper found troops who lost limbs and suffered traumatic brain injuries or post-traumatic stress were quartered for months in moldy and rodent-infested rooms with inadequate follow-up care.

The panel chairman, Rep. John Tierney, called "the unsanitary conditions" and other problems at Walter Reed hospital "appalling."

"But we also realize that not only is it flat wrong, that's the tip of the iceberg," said Tierney, a Massachusetts Democrat. "For too many occasions, the soldiers at Walter Reed wait months, if not years, in sort of a limbo. And they must navigate through broken administrative processes and layers upon layers of bureaucracy to get their basic tasks accomplished."

The congressman said he believes the problems "go well beyond the walls of Walter Reed, and that they are problems systemic throughout the military health-care system. And as we send more and more troops into Iraq and Afghanistan, these problems are only going to get worse, not better. And we should be prepared to deal with them."

Maj. Gen. George Weightman, whose duties included overseeing the facility before he was fired over the scandal, said, "It is clear mistakes were made and I was in charge. We can't fail one of these soldiers or their families, not one, and we did."

He added, "We did not fully recognize the frustrating bureaucratic and administrative processes some of these soldiers go through. We should have and in this, I failed."

But Annette McLeod described him as a "fall guy."

"Mr. Weightman, in my opinion, he was just shoved into a situation that was already there, and because somebody had to be the fall guy, he was there," she said.

McLeod said her husband at one point waited four months for the results of an important medical test. She said the Army refuses to acknowledge that her husband suffered a brain injury. He once told the military he had needed special help with certain school subjects when he was young, and now the Army is using that "against him," she said.

Room 'wasn't fit for anyone'
During earlier testimony, a soldier who said he once lived in a recovery annex at Walter Reed described unfit hospital conditions.

Wounded Army Spc. Jeremy Duncan told the panel he spent some of his recovery in Building 18. Duncan said that his room "wasn't fit for anyone."

"I know most soldiers that come out of recovery have weaker immune systems and black mold can do damage to people," Duncan said. "The holes in the walls -- I wouldn't live there even if I had to."

After taking his complaints through the chain of command, nothing was fixed, Duncan said.

"That's when I contacted The Washington Post."

Asked what happened after the Post reported what he had to say, Duncan replied, "I was immediately removed from that room. And then the next day they were renovating the room."

Duncan rejected recent public statements from some military officials that they were unaware of the problems. "There's no way they couldn't have known," he said. "I mean, everybody had to have known somewhere. If they wanted to actually look at it or pay attention or believe it, it's up to them."

'I want to leave this place'
Another patient, Staff Sgt. John Daniel Shannon, said the revelations were no surprise. "Two years after first being admitted, I'm hearing the same thing that I heard two years ago," Shannon said. He described his many extensive efforts to get needed treatment and better conditions.

"I want to leave this place," said Shannon. "I have seen so many soldiers get so frustrated with the process that they will sign anything presented to them just so they can get on with their lives. We have almost no advocacy that is not working for the government, no one that we can talk to about this process who is knowledgeable and we can trust is going to give us fair treatment and informed guidance."

As testimony began, Vice President **** Cheney was making a speech Monday to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, saying that President Bush has made clear "there will be no excuses, only action."

"We're going to fix the problems at Walter Reed, period," Cheney said.

At the hearing, Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley, the Army's surgeon general, acknowledged Walter Reed "has not met our standards," and added, "for that I am sorry."

Kiley's statement came after Acting Secretary of the Army Peter Geren told the committee that "we have let some soldiers down."

"We're going to fix that problem," Geren said.

Geren stepped into his role after Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey's resignation Friday.

In addition to Harvey's resignation, the outcry over the conditions some outpatient soldiers faced at Walter Reed led to Weightman's removal. (Watch why the Army secretary and hospital commander lost their jobs )

On Friday, House Democrats released documents showing Weightman was warned in September that the Army's decision to turn over support services for the facility to a private contractor sparked an exodus of skilled staff. That left patient care "at risk of mission failure," Weightman's deputy, Col. Peter Garibaldi, warned in a memo to the general.

HighPrvt
03-05-2007, 02:51 PM
Shows how much they really care, doesn't it.
there should be some court martials, and lengthy stays at Leavenworth.

bob 125th nysvi
03-05-2007, 02:53 PM
will be looking for some scape goat to deflect the fact that they were falling down on the job too.

Whether you are for or against the various military actions we are taking around the world, that our soldiers would get treated like this is just appalling.

So I think congress should get a great big pay cut to pay for improvements to the soldier's care. If they really cared one whit about the troops they'd do it in a heart beat.

Ah I can hear the inaction crickets chirping in Washington now.

Well at least we aren't as bad as the French. Between the wars the French government signed a contract to have thier tanks built with wooden idler wheels to save money. Wonder how many miles they got out of those babies?

GaWildcat
03-05-2007, 03:15 PM
As has been noted in the Atlanta Al-Jazeera Constitution, Not only has the Commanding General of WRAMC been relieved, but the SecArmy has also resigned. Now, I wanna know where the Sergeant Major of WRAMC was at this time...I for one wanna see A BUNCH of Relief for Cause NCOERS and OERS coming out of this one!:mad:

Trooper Graham
03-05-2007, 03:17 PM
I hope the investigation includes every VA hospital. I'm 100% in priority group one and I have not been able to get an appointment at the John Cochrane VA Hospital in St Louis for eight months. It use to be top notch but has hit rock bottom in the last five years.

Ken
03-05-2007, 05:00 PM
Sadly, what's described above is the MO if you will of the government and military bureaucrats. Ignore the problem until someone blows the whistle on you and then suddenly everyone is scrambling to point fingers. The truth of the matter is these situations should not exist in the first place. I'm personally disgusted with our elected officials because they need a newspaper to break a story before they are even aware of what’s going on.

The way they react it's like the building is practically burned to the ground before they have the sense to turn on the water. Too little too late.

The way these brave soldiers are being treated is a damned disgrace and this country should be ashamed. I wouldn't blame a soldier for putting down his weapon and saying I’m on strike until you fix all of this crap. Makers me mad as he ll.

tompritchett
03-05-2007, 05:10 PM
McLeod said her husband at one point waited four months for the results of an important medical test. She said the Army refuses to acknowledge that her husband suffered a brain injury. He once told the military he had needed special help with certain school subjects when he was young, and now the Army is using that "against him," she said.

Army Times had an article on disabilities being awarded by the Army. Believe it or not, the number of disabilities being awarded now are considerably lower than in 2001 when we were not fighting two active wars. One common complaint cited in the article was the shift in Army policy that the soldier was now being required to prove that the disability was not pre-existing nor the result of injuries suffered in combat - an 180 degree reversal from policies prior to the invasion.

I remember similar stances taken by the Army about Agent Orange claims even though the EPA, CDC and everyone else knew that the symptoms were consistent to exposure to one of the contaminants found in one of the two pesticides used in Agent Orange. (For those of with some environmental knowledge, the compound was 2378 tetrachloro-dibenzo-dioxin, the most toxic of all the dioxin compounds and, at that time, was considered the most toxic compound made by man.) In fact, several years prior to the Army rejecting such Agent Orange claims, I had participated in a dioxin cleanup at Camp A.P. Hill that had resulted from leaking Agent Orange drums. The cleanup was extremely high priority because the Boy Scouts were scheduled to use the camp that summer for one of their annual jamporey (sp?) sites. Consequently, our site manager was having to brief the Secretary of the Army by phone every day. But still, the Army was denying claims that exposure to Agent Orange had been dangerous to the soldiers involved in the spraying program during Vietnam and continued to do so for at least six more years. When it comes to conflicts between spending adequate treatment of our brave soldiers and other spending priorities in times of tight funding, it seems that, in recent history, our wounded have been given the short stick yet again. This lack of concern for our troops makes me ashamed that I once served as an officer in the military. Troops should always come first!!

MStuart
03-05-2007, 05:53 PM
I'm of the opinion that this "scandal" is more than likely the result of poor planning, and, hence, not being able to catch up. The number of troops requiring short and long term care and rehabilitation has obviously been miscalculated or ignored in some way. The wars, apparently, have caught military medicine state-side unprepared.

It wasn't always this way with military medicine. During my service from 1973-1993, I found it, at least in the case of my family and I, very satisfactory. My son was delivered by the Chief of Obstetrics at Wright-Patterson USAF Medical Center. And, due to some "peculiarities" in some breast tissue, my wife was cared for by two full Colonel Department heads at the Wiesbaden, Germany Medical Center and Bolling AFB, D.C. Our confidence and respect for those guys stays to this day. That was, however, family medicine in a peace time military for the most part.

I can remember while I was stationed in San Antonio, Tx. asking why most of the city's gunshot victims were taken to Wilford Hall USAF Medical Center for free treatment. It was because many of the military's surgeons wanted and needed the experience in treating those types of wounds in case it was needed in some future conflict. It was money well spent, for the trauma surgeons we have in the theatre now are probably the best in the world.

But, the other kinds of trauma (expolsives and the traumatic loss of limbs, along with brain injuries) and rehab needed for our boys and girls now, in the numbers that have been coming in, have apparently overwhelmed military medicine. Conditions of the rooms at WRAMC notwithstanding, along with the current conditions there and elsewhere were/are the result of someone's failure to plan ahead for worst-case scenarios. It looks to me that long-term treatment and rehab for the types of injuries coming out of this war is the straw that's breaking the camels back and causing the delays in treatment and overcrowding that we're seeing. Our military just can't cope.

That's no excuse or reason to let "them" off the hook for filthy rooms and treatment delays, for it's they who we look toward to take care of our men and women through thick as well as thin. They deserve the best, whether wounded or stationed somewhere in a foreign land with their families. Anything less is cause for our leaders to feel and be ashamed.

Dollars are needed to wage this war. Perhaps more are needed to care for those who have sacrificed and need treatment. Whoever is controlling the purse strings needs to be testifying before congress, too, and explaining why this is and has been happening.

From an article today :
<Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley, the Army's surgeon general, acknowledged Walter Reed "has not met our standards," and added, "for that I am sorry.">

Walter Reed is in Washington, D.C. and is supposedly the Army's top Medical Center- And this guy didn't know?


Mark

Trooper Graham
03-05-2007, 06:14 PM
I'm of the opinion that this "scandal" is more than likely the result of poor planning, and, hence, not being able to catch up.


The number of troops requiring short and long term care and rehabilitation has obviously been miscalculated or ignored in some way. The wars, apparently, have caught military medicine state-side unprepared.






Mark

I agree and disagree Mark. I can't get my hands on the info now but I remember just early last year the Bush administration cut a VA medical program by 3.8 million or billion, can't remember exactly. This particular program delt with head trauma when already by then the wards were filling up with that exact kind of injuries. Our present administration has been an adversary to VA budgets until just recently when VA got more than what they asked for. I keep abreast always because I exist only by VA and the Dept of the Army. Horror stories abound. They always have and have never gone away. But they have increased 10 fold since President Bush came into office. For a republican he and his administration have actually been anti-veteran. This is my conclusion based on all that has happened during the last six and a half years. If only the civilian public knew it all. I blame the present VA medical situation entirely on President Bush and his administration and I would have no problem telling him that to his face. If I did though my whole medical file would be either convienetly stolen or lost on a hard drive in the hands of some overpaid idiot somewhere.

sbl
03-05-2007, 07:39 PM
.....those nice IAP folks that kept trucks already full of ice for Katrina relief parked in my town, Gloucester, Mass.

Ice is made for here in Gloucester for fish packing. The drivers said that they drove this Ice north.

http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicsasusual/

"Waxman (Chairman Henry Waxman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee) says "We have learned that in January 2006 WALTER REED awarded a FIVE-YEAR, $120 MILLION contract to a company called IAP WORLDWIDE SERVICES...IAP IS BEST KNOWN FOR THE PROBLEMS IT ENCOUNTERED DELIVERING ICE during the response to Hurricane Katrina. The COMPANY IS LED BY AL NEFFGEN, a FORMER HALLIBURTON OFFICIAL..."


I hope our troops will not be used for photo-ops or as backdrops.

sbl
03-05-2007, 07:42 PM
"Well at least we aren't as bad as the French. Between the wars the French government signed a contract to have thier tanks built with wooden idler wheels to save money. Wonder how many miles they got out of those babies?"

Good gravy Bob, who cares about what the French did or didn't do. I read this at work and I've been ticked all the way (50 miles) home listening to the news.

tompritchett
03-05-2007, 09:58 PM
I'm of the opinion that this "scandal" is more than likely the result of poor planning, and, hence, not being able to catch up. The number of troops requiring short and long term care and rehabilitation has obviously been miscalculated or ignored in some way. The wars, apparently, have caught military medicine state-side unprepared.

I will agree with much of what you are saying as that lack of adequate prior preparation has been a common thread throughout this whole war. However, I also believe that some of the problems also lie at the civilan and military staff at the Pentagon who are unwilling to reallocate funds from their pet projects to adequately fund programs that address the real needs of troops coming home with wounds seen and unseen. As I said in an earlier post, I was trained that my priorities as an officer were my mission first and my men second. I also encountered officers who placed their own career advancement ahead of both the mission and their men. Unfortunately, I strongly believe that many of those that make funding priority decisions may largely belong to this latter group. Most of the politically appointed civilans definitely appear to.

reb64
03-05-2007, 10:38 PM
Medical care never has been ideal in any war, but they can do better surely. I know times are tough on all those soldiers and staff as well out there at Reed, but back here at Ft. Riley, soldiers are getting laser eye surgery, spouses are getting boob jobs and tummy tucks and even vacation trips to fertizilation clinics. I guess its why its called the life of riley. Things are swell here from what I see. and no wait for the va clinic. I would hate to live in a big city. You can't possibly exopect to get a va appt in one of them.

MickCole
03-06-2007, 10:05 AM
Sadly, the neglect at Walter Reed has been well-known for several years by those who have been there. Frankly, it's hard to believe that Mr. Bush and Cheney were totally unaware of the conditions. It appears to me that they simply chose to ignore the problem so long as Mr. Bush had strong public support. Now that support for Mr. Bush in general and the Iraqi War in particular are down, a belated look into the neglect shown toward wounded soldiers and their families by Bush/Cheney gives at least the appearance of a cynical use of this appalling situation to bolster their own sagging public images. Instead of saying "the buck stops here," they are once again looking for scapegoats. Had they been more willing to listen to the generals from the beginning, I question whether things would be as bad as they are in either Iraq or Walter Reed.
As always, Congress has its own share of responsiblity. As stated by Rick Francona (Col. USAF, Ret.--one of my fellow Silent Warrior recon crew dogs--see http://www.silent-warriors.com/):
"Regardless of who runs the facility, there is a social contract between those who serve in the armed forces and those they serve, a belief that the wounded will be cared for."

"That contract is far from reality. Read the reports of rodents, mold and mildew in quarters at Walter Reed for our combat wounded. What’s worse, Congress has failed to appropriate monies for adequate medical care and rehabilitation for these troops, be it for the Department of Defense or the Veterans Administration. If Congress had been funding medical care adequately, there would have been no need for the Intrepid Foundation to raise private money for the $50 million state-of-the-art rehabilitation facility in San Antonio, Texas. The construction of that facility was a direct response to Congress’s failure to honor our combat wounded. It is an absolute disgrace that a non-profit organization had to raise funds to provide medical care that should have come from tax dollars."
See Rick's blogspot (February 27, 2007): http://francona.blogspot.com/
Respectfully,
Mick Cole

MStuart
03-06-2007, 10:22 AM
Veterans Affairs Secretary James Nicholson -- who on Monday announced new measures to speed the processing of military benefit claims and cut through red tape for soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan -- said Tuesday the horror stories emerging from the hearings were "unacceptable."(Watch Nicholson talk about what's being done )

"It breaks my heart," Nicholson told CBS' "The Early Show." But he drew a distinction between the benefit claims backlog and the delivery of needed medical treatment. "If they come to us for health care they are admitted immediately," he said.
-----------------------------
What about the rest of the veterans? - Mark
----------------------------------------

Army officials said they accept responsibility but denied knowing about most of the problems.

"Simply put, I am in command," said Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley, who was in charge of Walter Reed from 2000 until 2004, when he became Army surgeon general. "And as I share these failures, I also accept the responsibility and the challenge for rapid corrective action."

Kiley said he had been aware of some issues, including an October service assessment citing problems with Walter Reed staffing, medical evaluations and patient handling.

But when asked by Rep. Christopher Shays why he hadn't acted or asked Congress for money to fix the problems, Kiley said he did not think money was the issue. The general said the system for outpatient care is "complex, confusing and frustrating" and that more doctors, nurses and other staff are being brought in to lower the case load and so speed the process.

Lawmakers said they were skeptical.

"What you're saying though, under oath, is that you have all the resources necessary to you," said Shays, R-Connecticut. "And I honestly don't believe that. I don't believe that."
------------------------------------

Maj. Gen. George Weightman, whose duties included overseeing the facility before he was fired over the scandal, said, "It is clear mistakes were made, and I was in charge. We can't fail one of these soldiers or their families, not one, and we did."

He added, "We did not fully recognize the frustrating bureaucratic and administrative processes some of these soldiers go through. We should have and in this, I failed."
---------------------------------------

Of course he didn't realize the bureaucracy and red-tape- he's a bureaucrat! And, a General, they don't have to slog through what the rest of the troops do.

"I/we didn't know" seems to be the phrase of the week.

"Why didn't you?" should be asked.......many times.

Mark

tompritchett
03-06-2007, 10:56 AM
IMHO, Walter Reed is just the canary in the mine. Another major short-fall in the military and VA system is the shortage of mental health specialists to fill the existing slots - an issue especially critical as it is becoming apparent that impaired brain functions due to combat injuries is becoming the "Agent Orange Syndrone" of this current war. Unfortunately, many of these injuries were not diagnosed at the time of the injury as the soldier merely showed the signs of a concussion and were not evacuated for further medical attention and evaluation. The military was understandably unprepared to deal this new type of injury, and they have been playing catchup as has the VA system. (Some might question if they are devoting enough resources to catching up but that is a whole different issue for which I do not have sufficient information to form an opinion on.) What makes matters worse, in many parts of the country, the civilian medical support establishment is even less prepared than the military. Regardless, the leadership in both the White House and Congress owes it to these brave men to do what it takes to insure that they get the medical treatment and overall support that they need once they get back, especially those members of the Reserve and National Guard who, as civilians, may not have the same access to the same benefits as their Active component brethren.

cookiemom
03-06-2007, 11:27 AM
Army officials said they accept responsibility but denied knowing about most of the problems...

"I/we didn't know" seems to be the phrase of the week.

"Why didn't you?" should be asked.......many times.

Mark
In my high school freshman ethics class (1970), we learned the difference between "culpable" and "inculpable" ignorance.

Claiming they "didn't know" means only that they weren't fully doing their jobs. They SHOULD have known. That they did not is inexcusable. The phrase "dereliction of duty" comes to mind...

Furious, and not inclined to settle down anytime soon,
Ma

Trooper Graham
03-06-2007, 01:40 PM
"If they come to us for health care they are admitted immediately," he said.







My arse they do.

Trooper Graham
03-06-2007, 01:54 PM
On my local news last night the VA hospital John Cochrane in St Louis was featured. Not good. So I thought I'd give them another call and ask about an appointment. Somebody's head got rolled because at 8am the 23rd of '''this''' month I have an appointment will a real live doctor. ;)

Trooper Graham
03-06-2007, 06:39 PM
.....those nice IAP folks that kept trucks already full of ice for Katrina relief parked in my town, Gloucester, Mass.

Ice is made for here in Gloucester for fish packing. The drivers said that they drove this Ice north.

http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicsasusual/

"Waxman (Chairman Henry Waxman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee) says "We have learned that in January 2006 WALTER REED awarded a FIVE-YEAR, $120 MILLION contract to a company called IAP WORLDWIDE SERVICES...IAP IS BEST KNOWN FOR THE PROBLEMS IT ENCOUNTERED DELIVERING ICE during the response to Hurricane Katrina. The COMPANY IS LED BY AL NEFFGEN, a FORMER HALLIBURTON OFFICIAL..."


I hope our troops will not be used for photo-ops or as backdrops.

These people and the info above was featured on ABC News tonight.

MStuart
03-12-2007, 02:58 PM
Army surgeon general ousted amid Walter Reed scandal

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley has lost his job as Army surgeon general, another casualty of the care scandal at Walter Reed Medical Center.

Acting Army Secretary Pete Geren asked for Kiley's resignation, and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates approved the action, a senior Pentagon official said.

In its official announcement, the Army said Kiley had requested retirement.

Kiley had been made temporary head of Walter Reed, the Army's top hospital, after Army Maj. Gen. George W. Weightman was ousted in the wake of a series in The Washington Post that found soldiers living in deplorable conditions.

However, he was quickly replaced by Gen. Eric Schoomaker amid criticism that Kiley, who was head of Walter Reed from 2000 to 2004, had been aware of the problems at the facility.

Secretary of the Army Francis Harvey, who had placed Kiley in temporary command of Walter Reed, resigned March 2 in wake of the scandal.

Kiley, who was also commanding general of Army Medical Command, submitted his request to retire on Sunday, the Army said in a news release.

Geren announced Kiley's request to retire and said Maj. Gen. Gale Pollock, current deputy surgeon general, will take over Harvey's duties until a permanent replacement can be named. That selection requires the approval of the president and confirmation in the Senate.

Geren told employees at Walter Reed on Monday that "recent events focused on shoddy facilities, failures of leadership," and added that the disability system "has become a maze, overly bureaucratic, needlessly complex."

"A soldier who fights the battle shouldn't have to come home and fight the battle of bureaucracy," he said.

"We must move quickly to fill this position -- this leader will have a key role in moving the way forward in meeting the needs of our wounded warriors," Geren said in a statement Monday. "We have an Army Action Plan under way under the leadership of the vice chief of staff, Army Gen. **** Cody, and the surgeon general has a critical role in the execution of that plan. I am confident Maj. Gen. Pollock will ably lead the Army Medical Department during this transition period."

"I submitted my retirement because I think it is in the best interest of the Army," Kiley said Sunday, according to a Pentagon statement. "I want to allow Acting Secretary Geren, General Schoomaker, and the leaders of the Army Medical Command to focus completely on the way ahead and the Army Action Plan to improve all aspects of soldier care. We are an Army Medical Department at war, supporting an Army at war -- it shouldn't be and it isn't about one doctor."

At a Senate hearing last week, Kiley said he was aware of care issues at Walter Reed but not of specific problems, according to an Associated Press report.

"As we've seen, in the last couple of weeks, we have failed to meet our own standards at Walter Reed. For that, I'm both personally and professionally sorry," AP quoted Kiley as saying before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

President Bush last week asked former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole and former Cabinet Secretary Donna Shalala to lead a panel on care for those wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their reports are due June 30.
----------------------------------

Allowed to retire at Lt. Gen's rate........not too bad for screwing up. Within a year (after this "blows over") he'll be on someone's board of directors with an even cushier job and salary. After all, he "didn't know".

Mark

Trooper Graham
03-12-2007, 08:53 PM
The VA has orderd that some 1400 VA hospitals and clincs be inspected.

About time...................

MStuart
03-19-2007, 02:19 PM
Squabbles delayed Walter Reed contract for 3 years

• Non-medical staff shrank from 300 to around 50 over last year
• Efforts to privatize parts of the hospital go back to 2000.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- An Army contract to privatize maintenance at Walter Reed Medical Center was delayed more than three years amid bureaucratic bickering and legal squabbles that led to staff shortages and a hospital in disarray just as the number of severely wounded soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan was rising rapidly.

Documents from the investigative and auditing arm of Congress map a trail of bid, rebid, protests and appeals between 2003, when Walter Reed was first selected for outsourcing, and 2006, when a five-year, $120 million contract was finally awarded.

The disputes involved hospital management, the Pentagon, Congress and IAP Worldwide Services Inc., a company with powerful political connections and the only private bidder to handle maintenance, security, public works and management of military personnel.

While medical care was not directly affected, needed repairs went undone as the non-medical staff shrank from almost 300 to less than 50 in the last year and hospital officials were unable to find enough skilled replacements.

An investigative series by The Washington Post last month sparked a furor on Capitol Hill after it detailed subpar conditions at the 98-year-old hospital in northwest Washington and substandard services for patients. Three top-ranking military officials, including the secretary of the Army, were ousted in part for what critics said was the Pentagon's mismanaged effort to reduce costs and improve efficiency at the Army's premier military hospital while the nation was at war.

IAP is owned by a New York hedge fund whose board is chaired by former Treasury Secretary John Snow, and it is led by former executives of Kellogg, Brown and Root, the subsidiary spun off by Texas-based Halliburton Inc., the oil services firm once run by Vice President **** Cheney.

IAP finally got the job in November 2006, but further delays caused by the Army and Congress delayed work until February 4, two weeks before the Post series and two years after the number of patients at the hospital hit a record 900.

"The Army unfortunately did not devote sufficient resources to the upfront planning part of this, and when you do that, you suffer every step of the way," said Paul Denett, administrator for federal procurement policy at the Office of Management and Budget, the White House unit that prepares the president's budget and oversees government contracts.

The contract includes management of Building 18, which houses soldiers with minor injuries and was highlighted in the Post series as symptomatic of substandard conditions: black mold on the walls of patient rooms, rodent and cockroach infestation, and shoddy mattresses.

Those 54 rooms are now vacant. Interior work cannot be started until a badly damaged roof is repaired, and that will need another contract because it's not covered in the IAP contract, Walter Reed officials said.

"These rooms are exactly as they were left," Master Sgt. Gary Rhett, manager of Building 18, said Thursday. "No changes have been made."

The Army has confirmed the timing of the contract delays but declined several requests for comment on why the protest and appeal process took so long, even as more and more injured soldiers were arriving.

The trail goes back to the end of the Clinton administration. The Army began studying the cost benefits of privatization in 2000.

When President Bush took office, he mandated the competitive outsourcing of 425,000 federal jobs. At the time, the Pentagon was aggressively pushing for increased outsourcing, and in June 2003, then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told a Senate committee he was considering outsourcing up to 320,000 nonmilitary support jobs.

That's the same year that the Army asked for bids on Walter Reed and, coincidentally, the same year the United States invaded Iraq.

One company responded: Johnson Controls World Services Inc., which would be acquired by IAP in March 2005. It initially bid $132 million, but it and Walter Reed's then-management agreed that the Army was underestimating the cost.

By September 2004, the Army had decided it would be cheaper to continue with current management, which said it could do the work for $124.5 million. Johnson Controls filed a protest with the Government Accountability Office.

The protest was dismissed in June 2005, but the Army agreed to reopen bidding three months later to include additional costs for services. In January 2006, after two rounds of protests by IAP and two appeals by Walter Reed employees to the U.S. Army Medical Command, IAP was named the winner, according to Steve Sanderson, a Walter Reed spokesman.

Instead, in an unusual turn of events, the contract wasn't awarded for another 11 months, the GAO said. Walter Reed officials blame several factors, including an additional protest to the GAO filed by Deputy Garrison Commander Alan D. King, a separate appeal to the U.S. Army Medical Command by Walter Reed's public works director, at least one intervention by Congress, and delays on required congressional notifications about government employee dismissals.

IAP spokeswoman Arlene Mellinger said "it was up to the Army to decide when to begin that contract." The company was ready to start at any time, she added.

In August 2006, led by Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Maryland, lawmakers asked then-Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey to hold off on the contract until Congress finished work on the fiscal 2007 defense appropriations bill. Congress approved that bill Sept. 29.

The Army's plan then was to eliminate 360 federal jobs at Walter Reed in November and turn the work over to IAP, according to the American Federation of Government Employees, a federal workers' trade union. But the Army failed to notify Congress 45 days in advance, as required by law, so the turnover was delayed until early this year.

Then it was IAP's turn to have problems.

When work finally began at the hospital, IAP made an immediate request, which the Army approved, to hire 87 temporary skilled workers for up to four months "to ease the turbulence caused by employees being placed into positions or other installations and otherwise finding new jobs early," said Sanderson, the Walter Reed official.

However, a "tight" job market in the Washington area meant that only 10 qualified temporary employees were found, he added. Meanwhile, injured soldiers continue to arrive weekly to a short-handed, deteriorated hospital, which the Army still plans to close in 2011.
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Respectfully submitted
Mark

tompritchett
03-19-2007, 08:57 PM
Mark, welcome to the world of large government contracting where the contracting officer is often not even in the same chain of command of the organizations his contracts are supporting. Been there.