Thursday, February 22, 2007

Fixing Walter Reed

Top Army officers, rightly embarrassed by the Washington Post stories on the sad state of some of the facilities at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, are vowing to fix it:

A top Army general vowed yesterday to personally oversee the upgrading of Walter Reed Army Medical Center's Building 18, a dilapidated former hotel that houses wounded soldiers as outpatients.

Gen. Richard A. Cody, the Army vice chief of staff, used terminology similar to that of a military campaign to describe his plan to overhaul the broken building, including giving it a more "appropriate" name, and the sluggish bureaucracy for outpatient care.

"We own that building, and we're going to take charge of it," Cody said at the Pentagon. "The senior Army leadership takes full responsibility for the lack of quality of life at Building 18, and we're going to fix it."

There's no mention of mindless bureaucracy, inadequate medical treatment and the general effort to deny soldiers benefits, as one member of Congress points out:

Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (Va.), the top Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, blasted the Army yesterday, saying in a statement that it has known for years about shortcomings at Walter Reed.

"You could put all of the wounded soldiers in the Ritz-Carlton and it wouldn't fix the personnel, management and recordkeeping problems that keep them languishing in outpatient limbo out there for months while paperwork from 11 disjointed systems gets shuffled and lost," Davis said.

Still, it's a start. And a testament to the power of good reporting to fix things that ought to be fixed.

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