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Walter Reed Hospital in Horrible Condition

The Washington Post has a shocking report about the condition of Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital, particularly Building 18:

The Post series documented tattered conditions at Building 18, including mold, rot, mice and cockroaches, but also a larger bureaucratic indifference that has impeded some soldiers' recovery.


At Building 18 yesterday, platoon sergeants with clipboards went from room to room inspecting for mold, leaks and other problems. A broken elevator was repaired, and snow and ice were cleared from the sidewalks.

Allahpundit has video of milblogger Chuck Ziegenfuss on CNN discussing his experience in Walter Reed Hospital.

Of course, Democrats are jumping on this situation as if they have absolutely nothing to do with it, although they are part of the bureaucracy that created it:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) asked the House Armed Services Committee to investigate outpatient care at Walter Reed. "The treatment reported in The Post of our troops and our veterans is disgraceful," Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly said.


Several senators, including presidential candidate Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and former presidential candidate John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), announced they are co-sponsoring legislation to simplify the paperwork process for recovering soldiers and increase case managers and psychological counselors. The bill would also require the Army to report more regularly to Congress and the inspector general about the living conditions of injured soldiers.

Michelle Malkin addressed this issue and nails it:

The mess at the VA and in the military health care system is systemic and complicated. Political grandstanding on both sides of the political aisle has impeded reforms for years. The push to modernize and consolidate facilities, including Walter Reed, has been met with fierce resistance--exacerbated by bureaucratic edifice complex. That these failures to prioritize continue in war time unabated is damnable. Any light shone on the soldiers' toll, whatever the motivations and prejudices of the WaPo reporters might be, is welcome, IMO.

Of course, Michelle is right. Our entire VA hospital system is sick and must be fixed because our military men and women deserve so much better. It's disgraceful that it's deteriorated to this condition. But, unfortunately, it's not surprising considering it's the US government that runs the entire system.

Which brings us to the bigger picture. John Edwards, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and many other liberals sing the praises of universal health care. They insist that it is the best way to make sure everyone has the best care possible. However, if the US government is so bogged down financially and politically that it's incapable of providing the best health care possible for our veterans and injured military men and women returning from war who have sacrificed so much to protect us, then how the hell is that same US government going to provide the best health care for the rest of the 300 million people in this country? Universal health care will be a gargantuan version of the VA and military health care systems.


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Comments (25)

Yes, more gubmint healthcar... (Below threshold)
Mitchell:

Yes, more gubmint healthcare, perty please!

And, the same can be said for healthcare in UK, Canada, France . . . you get the picture.

Oh, right, and Cuba has the world's best healthcare, unless your the dictator and you have a real serious condition.

My husband is a 100% disabl... (Below threshold)
mshyde:

My husband is a 100% disabled veteran, and the
VA hospital he is assigned to is overwhelmed in
having to support 5 other states as well as the
one we live in.
These veterans are owed, has due to see they recieve
the very best of care and service.
They have sacrificed the best of themselves for every citizen of these United States.

Anyone who's been treated b... (Below threshold)
metprof:

Anyone who's been treated by the VA or in military medical facilities over the last 30 years won't be surprised by this. The military medical system focuses on trauma, of which they are the best, or one of the best, in the world at it. Unfortunately post-trauma and routine care have never been nearly as good and lag behind US civilian care-givers. It's just not what they do.

Trauma care demands quick and accurate decision making and remediative action with no room for bureacracy and administrative hogwash. But like any govt. entity, the routime and followup care activities are laden with red tape, waiting lists, "can't do's", "no's", and "not authorized's".

Any of you who are proponents of universal health care should visit your local military medical clinic/VA facility. You'll get a window into the future of what government-run medical care will be like.

Unfortunately the GI's are the ones to suffer at Walter Reed. I do find it hard to believe that our esteemed politicians act so offended by the sorry state of affairs as they get their medical care at the same facilities.

I'm with MsHyde. In this a... (Below threshold)
Mitchell:

I'm with MsHyde. In this arena the gov't should do good healthcare, but as it is gov't., it won't and/or can't do it.

If it were a business, answerable to customers, it would have done much more.

Malkin leaps forward, and L... (Below threshold)
Lee:

Malkin leaps forward, and Lorie sits up and links (good girl!)

As if Malkin has anything pertinent to lend to the discussion. Watch as spin-doctor Michelle leaps to spin the blame away from the Republicans -- the same Republicans who have controlled the purse strings in Congress for the last 13 years.

"Political grandstanding on both sides of the political aisle has impeded reforms for years."

Stuff a sock in it, Malkin. The sit-on-their-thumbs Congress has given veterans the shaft for too long now. It's time for action, not partisan bullshit.

LeeThis problem ha... (Below threshold)
metprof:

Lee

This problem has existed way longer than the 13 years you spout. You infer that the dems have somehow stood tall previously for vets??? That's absolutely laughable. During Carter's presidency I was a 2nd Lt. with 2 dependents and was eligiable for food stamps......yeah, it's all about the repubs controlling the purse strings. Your inference would be laughable if it weren't so absolutely absurd.

The first thing I ran into ... (Below threshold)
Scrapiron:

The first thing I ran into on my first appointment at a VA hospital was an America hater and a Military hating doctor. I came within an inch of punching his lights out. The first step in improvement will have to include the welfare check waiting Civil Service workers being fired in droves. I'll wager you'll find 60% + of the employees have never served anyone other than themselves for one day, much less the country by serving in the military, and like the rest of the liberals they support the enemies of the country much more vocal than they do the United States Military. Just my observations as a disabled Vietnam Vet and there are a lot around here that feel the same way. If you haven't been there you can say you understand but you really can't.

My dad is medically retired... (Below threshold)
Ted:

My dad is medically retired from the military and has used VA facilities extensively during his lifetime. They've always done right by him, and he's gotten fine care.

Sure, it's anecdotal, but not every VA experience is a horror story.

Maintaining a separate VA s... (Below threshold)

Maintaining a separate VA system with top-notch care was simpler when a greater proportion of doctors came through the military, and more desperately needed when many areas of the country had no access to specialized care.

Private health care companies have brought quality medical care to many places long without it. Staffing a duplicative separate system runs up costs without improving delivered care.

We should give our vets vouchers, and let them consult the best specialists at the facility of their choice, and we simply pay the bill.

Al Franken has been talking... (Below threshold)
drlava:

Al Franken has been talking about this problem for a couple of years. His frequent guest Paul Rieckoff has been on this story since he returned from Iraq.

Iraq Afghanistan Veterans of America website is:

iava.org

My husband will retired aft... (Below threshold)
Jo:

My husband will retired after 24+ years in the Army in August this year. We are researching purchasing our own medical insurance so he won't have to use the military facilities. Socialized Healthcare at its finest.

Jo, if you're in an area wi... (Below threshold)

Jo, if you're in an area with it, look at Kaiser Permanente. Not sure as to how the costs run comparitive to the other Insurers, but it is one of the better ones. It is run by Medical Doctors, and the MD's are the ones who make the Medical Decisions (In fact, my Dad was the beneficiary once, he referees soccer, had a ball hit him in the face, created a "bubble" at the back of his eye. He was referred to an eye specialist at the UCLA Medical Center, and because a Kaiser Doctor referred him there, he didn't have to pay anything extra for it).

Which brings us to the only... (Below threshold)
Lee:

Which brings us to the only reason Lorie cares about this story -- it gives her a chance to stick it to her fellow Americans while pretending to give a crap about anyone but her fellow conservative politicos.

Which brings us to the bigger picture. John Edwards, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and many other liberals sing the praises of universal health care. They insist that it is the best way to make sure everyone has the best care possible. However, if the US government is so bogged down financially and politically that it's incapable of providing the best health care possible for our veterans and injured military men and women returning from war who have sacrificed so much to protect us, then how the hell is that same US government going to provide the best health care for the rest of the 300 million people in this country? Universal health care will be a gargantuan version of the VA and military health care systems.

The VA health care system consists of a health care network largely comprised of government owned hospitals and clinics.

Universal health care, as it is been promoted by the democrats, consists of health insurance that people use to obtain care from non government-run health care providers. She's comparing two totally different animals -- like comparing Ford Motor Company to Allstate Insurance.

It's clear Lorie doesn't even understand the difference - and yet she weighs in to demonstrate her ignorance on this subject not because she give a hoot about veterans, but because a) it gives her a chance to link to another worthless Michelle Malkin screed, and b) it lets her fire off a cheap shot at the Democrats. That's pathetic.

This is a perfect example of the conservative Republican "business-as-usual" partisan crap this country endured for more than a decade -- ignore the needs of Americans and find a way to stick it to your political opponents at the same time.

Lee, you are so wrong. Even... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

Lee, you are so wrong. Even IF, there is universal healthcare to be used at local hospital, the program will be managed by the government. I know you probably think government departments are competent, but history has proven otherwise. It doesn't matter what party is in power, the civil servants never change.

Also, what is your deal with Lorie? Every time she post's, you go overboard to discredit her doing so. Is it personal? Gender? What? ww

I work for the VA (since 20... (Below threshold)
DocJ:

I work for the VA (since 2004), in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and have seen others in our state, and I can say that the VA has improved by leaps and bounds since the nineteen-eighties-early nineties. Things were pretty bad there in the old days, but the staff now (by and large - there's still pockets of the "old guard" I'm sure) are very professional, dedicated, and highly skilled. The care veterans receive here in Ann Arbor is top-notch, and we have the University of Michigan Hospital and St. Johns Hospital right down the road for comparison. We are one of the first places severe Iraq casualties are sent for treatment, and we've done very well by them.

I'm no fan of government-run anything, which may sound strange given I work for the government, but the VA is generally run as well or better than a lot of commercial hospitals. The main problem with the VA is expenditure of IT (information technology) funds. Way too much money is wasted by beaurocrats on things that aren't really needed, which is typical of government-run things. The care of the vets isn't allowed to suffer because of any of that, however; at least here in Michigan.

Should also point out that ... (Below threshold)
DocJ:

Should also point out that Walter Reed Medical Center is not a VA hospital - it's a Department of Defense (DoD) hospital. So the VA should not be held responsible for it, but the Army.

My apologies to Lorie, this... (Below threshold)
Lee:

My apologies to Lorie, this post was written by Kim, and I identified it as Lorie's and directed my criticism at Lorie instead of Kim. I apologize.

WW: "Even IF, there is universal healthcare to be used at local hospital, the program will be managed by the government"

So therefore all government run programs are bad? Or do we look a them on a case-by-case basis?

Arguing that the VA Hospitals are screwed up and therefore UHC won't work is bullshit. It's and apples and oranges comparison that is based and biased solely on politics. Kim doesn't give a flying crap about veterans -- she's just drooled over the possibility of sticking it to Democrats, and threw together this post in a quick attempt to play politics -- ignoring the real problem.

As you are Lee by addressin... (Below threshold)
J.R.:

As you are Lee by addressing Kim and not the matter of the VA hospitals.

You are every bit as partisan and shill as you claim Kim to be. And you also couldn't give a rat's ass about the care of vets. For you this will and always will be about politics, no matter the topic.

This has nothing to do with... (Below threshold)

This has nothing to do with liberals and universal health care. This has to do with a lack of funding for Walter Reed and the blatant disregard by government (in general) for the well being of our military.

Kim Priestap:But,... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Kim Priestap:
But, unfortunately, it's not surprising considering it's the US government that runs the entire system.
By the same token... If we are having trouble running the most important military hospital in the US located in far way Washington DC, because of ignorance, incompetence and neglect what are the chances the US government could successfully manage a military occupation in a country of 25 million hostile inhabitants...'Doctor heal thyself, first.'

It is absurd to equate the ... (Below threshold)
SC Voter:

It is absurd to equate the abysmal conditions at Walter Reed to the concept of universal health care. There is no correlation that exists that equates universal health care with rodent and insect infested facilities.

My personal experience with universal health care came as a result of being injured while on a trip to Sweden. The quality of the care that I received in a pleasant hygenic facility was first rate. The best part was my bill for an overnight stay and evaluative tests was only $16 dollars.

Political critic should be ... (Below threshold)
SC Voter:

Political critic should be aware that there is no real lack of funding for Walter Reed. As things stand now, the portion of the Federal budget devoted to the military is approximately 50%. The funds are available for quality care what is lacking is effective management, competence in administration and effective oversight of the fraud, waste and abuse that is rampant in the Department of Defense.

When the Bush regime was pushing its agenda of a war with Iraq it failed to adequately plan for all consequences such as how to care for those sent into combat. The problems of Walter Reed should have been fixed before Bush started his war of choice.

Sometimes I get the feeling... (Below threshold)
tyree:

Sometimes I get the feeling I am in Alice's Wonderland. Just last week I was reading an article in on of the popular weekly news magazines about how VA hospitals were doing great and this demonstrated how great socialized medicine is. This week, completely different headlines.

SCVOTER said:
"The problems of Walter Reed should have been fixed before Bush started his war of choice."
Democrats, lots of them, voted to go to war in Iraq and SCVOTER forgot all of their names. Maybe SCVOTER's attitude explains why this week the VA hospitals are a total mess, while last week they were great examples of socialized medicine.

1) Issues about WRAMC Buil... (Below threshold)
epador:

1) Issues about WRAMC Building 18 are peculiar to military installations in general and really aren't specific to the military medical establishment. You'll find the same sorry state of quarters on Navy, Army, Air Force, Marine and Coast Guard facilities around the country and abroad. Sure there have been great strides in housing upgrades, but the upgrades are hardly universal. There are thousands of military families living in base housing that look like Building 18.

2) VA system is a huge bureaucracy. It has some neat unique features (their electronic medical record is fairly superior to the military ones, though it certainly has its problems), some pretty facilities, and hordes of civil servants who operate as if their career were much more important than their patients. Amidst these folks are dedicated professionals who have to counter these problems and provide amazing care. The facility problem in the VA system has no resemblance to the Military medical system facility problems.

The condition at Walter Ree... (Below threshold)
Lloyd G. Lewis Jr.:

The condition at Walter Reed Hospital should not come as a surprise to anyone. Some of the problems might be due to the leadership of the people in charge of the hospital but the real problem lies whith those who control the funds and don't make the care of the soilder a priority. My experience have shown that an individual reports situation which might be an embarrsement to those at the top. Firing a few Generals is not the answer. I am sure that given the right support any of those in charge could have taken care of the existing problems. How long will this problem remain on the front page?
It is DEJA VUE all over again. What happen in the early 70s with the abuse of power. What career minded person would bring attention to already known problems that were not a known to those in charge. It is time that a method be develop which allow those in the military to bring to light problems before they become as big as this Walter Reed problem. In the past the barrier of bad news could be hurt. Its 1972 again!! I can speak out this time and they can't hurt me this time. Walter Reed Hospital is not the only problem. It is time attention is paid to the medical care of all active duty and Vets.




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