All Is Not Well For Walter Reed Outpatients

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Main Question or Discussion Point

According to an article in the Sunday Washington post conditions for outpatients at the hospital are poor. Once patients no longer need to be hospitalized they are housed in the 200 room building 18.

Surely we can do better than what is described in the Post story. Although this is a military hospital, I have that old gut feeling that political appointees are showing their ineptitude once again in Washington DC.

Behind the door of Army Spec. Jeremy Duncan's room, part of the wall is torn and hangs in the air, weighted down with black mold. When the wounded combat engineer stands in his shower and looks up, he can see the bathtub on the floor above through a rotted hole. The entire building, constructed between the world wars, often smells like greasy carry-out. Signs of neglect are everywhere: mouse droppings, belly-up cockroaches, stained carpets, cheap mattresses.
On the worst days, soldiers say they feel like they are living a chapter of "Catch-22." The wounded manage other wounded. Soldiers dealing with psychological disorders of their own have been put in charge of others at risk of suicide.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/17/AR2007021701172.html

EDIT Part two of the Post's series.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/18/AR2007021801335.html?sub=new
 
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Answers and Replies

  • #2
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Don't forget it takes nearly an act of congress to be hospitalized. If you can't fund a war including its inevitable casualties, don't start one. My days serving as a resident at a local VA hospital, aboslutely nightmarish. These guys would show up in the ER, and there was no place to house them, so my job basically amounted to using any ploy possible to get them on the street. Now in some cases, this was justified, but in others I seemed like I was just reinflicting trauma.
 
  • #3
Evo
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VA hospitals are just awful. When my sister was getting her psychology degree she had to work with mental patients at the VA hospital.

There is a big difference in how officers and enlisted men get treated.
 
  • #4
turbo
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The father of a couple of my friends and schoolmates had been a sniper in WWII, and the memories took a heavy toll on him. When his wife (a nurse) would insist that the VA help him out with some medical care, they over-medicated him to the point where he was not a problem and "parked " him until they declared him fit for release. He never got the psychological/psychiatric help or monitoring that he needed, so he was in and out of the hospital, swinging back and forth between psychosis, depression, irrational behavior, etc. One day, he was outside with his deer rifle, and a passing truck driver got on his CB said that he had been shot at. (This guy could hit anything he wanted with a rifle, so it's not likely that there was any threat.) Anyway, the SWAT team moved in, tried to take him out with negotiation, coercion, tear gas, etc, and ultimately the SWAT team's sniper killed him. The official story was that he had fired his rifle at them... I don't know if the VA really could have helped my friends' father or not, but loading him with drugs and sending him back home certainly didn't do the job, and a very nice man's life was sacrificed. When I was younger, he would take me along with his boys to some hunting/fishing cabins that they rented out to the "sports", and we would clean things up, split, and stack firewood and other chores, but there was always time for fun stuff like fishing, campfires, etc, too.
 
  • #5
BobG
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That's part of conducting a war that nobody pays for (at least no one but the military). You have to scrape money from strange places.

Part of Bush's plan to cut the deficit is to cut Veterans Administration funding: Vets Face More Health-Care Cuts. Realistically, most of the funding gets restored (along with other projected cuts) and deficits don't decrease, but a plan to cut the deficit in the future at least looks good today.

Part of keeping deficits at their current levels in spite of tax cuts is to shave money from the Operations and Maintenance budget, the money that pays for training, repair of equipment, and other support for troops: http://www.d-n-i.net/fcs/defense_budget_tutorial_2.htm [Broken] It becomes nearly impossible to really keep track of the money. A lot of the money cut from O&M is transferred to Emergency Spending to make it look like fiscal responsibility. A lot of the money in O&M is channeled into pork projects for key Congressmen's districts or states. It keeps Congress from complaining about war costs too strongly.

Some people in Congress get upset by this: http://www.d-n-i.net/fcs/wheeler_dont_mind_if_i_do.htm [Broken]. Not too upset, mind you, but at least a little upset.

Most of the wars (or Military Operations Other Than War, as we've only fought undeclared wars since WWII) have had more honest rationales behind them than this one, even if some of the rationales might be questionable. They've at least been conducted with a little more honesty.

Our current war has set a new low for the cynical methods used to justify it and the cynical methods used to fund it and conduct it ever since.
 
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  • #6
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I do some volunteer work with local veterans. On several occasions I have given the Patient Advocates Office an ear full. I have also seen vets say "to hell with this" and leave.

The outpatients at Walter Reed can not leave. They are still active duty military. The catch 22 is that they can not leave until their condition improves and the system is hindering their improvement. It is only after a 6 to 10 month disability adjudication process that they will be given a disability rating and turned over to the Veterans Administration.
 
  • #7
turbo
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The VA puts these poor old WWII vets through seven kinds of hell if they ask for help. My dad and several of his friends have been told "all your records burned in a fire" (St. Louis, I think they told them) as if these old guys have to forgo getting help or accept interminable delays if they can't provide copies of discharge records, etc. It's been 60 years!! You don't tell an 80+ year old veteran to go back home because you didn't properly safeguard his records and they were burned. I don't expect today's vets will be treated one bit better because our government does not have the honesty to provide the level of care that they agreed to. This is but one more argument for universal health coverage - as long as our vets (as well as poor and/or chronically ill people) are priced out of private coverage, they will suffer from inadequate health care and ultimately we will all pay the price.
 
  • #8
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WASHINGTON -- A new 200-room state-of-the-art hotel
featuring first-class accommodation at reasonable prices is
now open here at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
The Molonge House Hotel is primarily a haven for
outpatients and families visiting patients from all military
services who come to Walter Reed for care from around the
world.
http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Jun1997/n06051997_9706053.html

Hey wait a minute Walter Reed was scheduled for a 2011 closure in 2005. This would explain the lack of maintenance on trouble plagued building 18 which is just a smaller version of the new hotel mentioned above.

They let one hotel rot while building another with the whole place scheduled for closure in 2011. A lot of military heads are rolling because of poor civilian management.

The Base Realignment and Closure Commission voted Thursday to back the Pentagon's plan to close Walter Reed Army Medical Center as part of an overall proposal to realign military medical services in and around Washington, D.C.
http://www.govexec.com/story_page.cfm?articleid=32097&ref=rellink

Just as a side note my best guess by looking at the pictures is that mold infested building 18 is not all that old but was plumbed with polybutylene water lines.
 
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  • #9
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Speaking of Democracy Now, heard today another proof of privatization being the enemy of the common man. The outfit who received the contract for
120M over 5 years to provide support sources for WR was headed by an ex-Halliburton honcho. I'll try to get some more facts unless someone already has a quick link.
 
  • #10
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Speaking of Democracy Now, heard today another proof of privatization being the enemy of the common man. The outfit who received the contract for
120M over 5 years to provide support sources for WR was headed by an ex-Halliburton honcho. I'll try to get some more facts unless someone already has a quick link.
Mighta known.

The Bush Administration's drive for privatization may be responsible for the "deplorable" outpatient care for soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, according to a top Democratic Congressman investigating the scandal, which has already led to the resignation of the Secretary of the US Army.

A five-year, $120 million contract awarded to a firm run by a former executive from Halliburton – a multi-national corporation where Vice President Dick Cheney once served as CEO – will be probed at a Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs hearing scheduled for Monday.
http://www.nowpublic.com/privatized_disaster_at_walter_reed
 
  • #11
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And This

Ok so IAP isn't Haliburton, but they sure are connected.

when one starts turning over rocks what should come into view but an A-76 military contract with IAP Worldwide Service, [IAP] which took a $120 million contract to run portions of the WRAMC services for facilities management. Immediately after the awarding of the contract the facilities management staff was reduced to 50 privately employed workers. The CEO of IAP Worldwide is Al Neffgen, who previously served as COO of Government and Infrastructure for the Americas Region of Kellogg Brown and Root. The President of IAP Worldwide is Dave Swindle, formerly the vice president of Business Acquisition and National Security Programs at the Halliburton subsidiary KBR. Charles F. Dominy, IAP vice president in charge of government affairs, formerly served as as the manager of Halliburton's Government Affairs Office in Washington, D.C.
http://desertbeacon.blogspot.com/2007/03/former-halliburton-execs-held-contract.html [Broken]

I wonder what Cheney's stock options are worth by now?
 
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