Army Officials Respond to Reports on Walter Reed
Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley, chief of the Army Medical Command, on Thursday during a news conference said that a Washington Post series documenting problems at Walter Reed Army Medical Center presented an unfair characterization of the living conditions and health care services for soldiers being treated at the hospital's facilities, the Washington Post reports. "I'm not sure it was an accurate representation," Kiley said (Vogel, Washington Post, 2/23).
The Post last weekend published a two-part series titled "The Other Walter Reed" that examined conditions at the military hospital. One article, published on Sunday, profiled the state of Building 18, which has mold, cockroaches and stained carpets, among other issues (California Healthline, 2/21).
Kiley said he did not dispute the factual accuracy of the Post series and added that the conditions at Building 18 are "pretty distressing." However, he said that the problems in that building are not widespread and are not indicative of overall treatment for recovering soldiers.
Kiley said that Building 18 is "not emblematic of a process of Walter Reed that has abandoned soldiers and their families." He added, "While we have some issues here, this is not a horrific, catastrophic failure at Walter Reed." Kiley said the Army is examining ways to cut back on medical bureaucracy, including the process by which soldiers are evaluated and either discharged or returned to active duty.
Kiley said, "That's going to take more than a couple of weeks, but we're going to get at it." Kiley made his comments during a tour of Building 18, which in the past week has undergone renovations including painting, plumbing work and floor repair.
In related news, President Bush on Thursday nominated S. Ward Casscells to replace William Winkenwerder as assistant defense secretary for health affairs. The Pentagon said Winkenwerder's departure was planned and is unrelated to the recent media coverage about Walter Reed (Washington Post, 2/23).
Several broadcast programs recently reported or are scheduled to report on conditions at Walter Reed. Summaries appear below.
- C-SPAN's "Washington Journal": The program on Friday was scheduled to include an interview with Kelly Kennedy, a medical and health reporter for the Army Times who has written articles on conditions at the medical center ("Washington Journal," C-SPAN, 2/23). Video of the segment will be available online after the broadcast.
- NPR's "News & Notes": The segment includes a discussion on the investigation into conditions at the medical center, among other topics. Guests on the program include author Yvonne Bynoe; Ron Christie, vice president of the lobbying firm DC Navigators; and political consultant Walter Fields (Chideya, "News & Notes," NPR, 2/22). Audio of the segment is available online.
- PBS' "NewsHour With Jim Lehrer": The segment includes discussions with two Iraq war veterans who received outpatient care at Walter Reed; Rep. Bob Filner (D-Calif.), chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee; and Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.), a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee (Woodruff, "NewsHour With Jim Lehrer," PBS, 2/22). Audio and a transcript of the segment are available online.
- PBS' "Washington Week": The program on Friday is scheduled to include a discussion with Dana Priest, one of the reporters who wrote the Post series on conditions at Walter Reed ("Washington Week," PBS, 2/23). Video of the segment will be available online after the broadcast. A transcript of the complete program also will be available online after the broadcast.