Saturday, March 10, 2007

The whole Walter Reed fiasco

Occasionally the public crucifixion of a senior public or military official is warranted. While they themselves may not necessarily have caused the event that people are questioning, they’re certainly responsible for setting the tone of their command climate. So long as the responsible parties are ALSO flogged for their fuckups, the commander should get some heat as well.

Shit rolls downhill, as they say, and all too often some poor fall guy enlisted schmuck is left sitting at the base of the mountain with his mouth wide agape awaiting a steaming open-faced shitwich, while the officers who promulgated the mess skip away unscathed and with another career ticket punched.

The controversy in question surrounds Building 18 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington DC, and the red tape of their outpatient center’s bureaucracy that troops get mired in. How the deplorable conditions endured by wounded warriors at Building 18 were unbeknownst to the commanding general of WRAMC, Major General George Weightman, are beyond me. This dude didn’t make a walkthrough of his command when he took over? And who’s the officer in charge of that ward? He’s gotta be a full-bird Colonel and a doctor to boot, and he/she didn’t notice the mold, rats, and leaks? The OIC needs to be shit-canned too. What about the ward’s doctors? The command sergeant major? Anybody? No one attached to that facility gave enough of a shit about the troops to speak up about this place. The troops themselves finally had to blow the whistle, and reporters brought it to the attention of newly-appointed Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

If you ask a volunteer soldier to sally forth into battle time & time again in some third-world shit hole for multiple tours with murky objectives & not enough equipment, that soldier is accepting on faith that he or she will be supported 100% by the wonks that sent them there. And when they get wounded & maimed, that support should be 200% at the very least.

When I think military medicine, I think of hospitals like Landstuhl in Germany, the Bethesda Naval Hospital, and especially Walter Reed. WRAMC is supposed to be the best of the best, our showcase facility in the DC area. Looking at the footage of the shoddy condition of the place these heroes have to recover & convalesce in, it looked like it hadn’t been touched since I was born at that same hospital almost 38 years ago. Yes, I was delivered at WRAMC (then called Walter Reed General Hospital) by an Army major.

You mean to tell me MG Weightman never toured that place? He didn’t make at least a weekly or monthly walk-through to speak with the soldiers under his care? And it seems his underlings were also not doing the same thing?

To this I say Fuck You, sir. Fuck You Very Much.

So, in the face of this public relations disaster, what does the Army do? They fire Weightman, effectively halting his career dead in the water, and they replace him with Lieutenant General Kevin Kiley, the former commander of WRAMC whom Weightman had replaced. LTG Kiley had been serving as the Army’s surgeon general. However, all evidence points to the fact that these shitty conditions existed under Kiley’s command, too, so this putting another fox back in the hen house. Why put him back in charge when it was falling to pieces on his watch too? The Secretary of the Army, Francis Harvey, fell on his sword and resigned when Gates asked him to, and rightly so. His ass should have been over there at that hospital seeing soldiers too, and he should have been sending people over to inspect the facility. Sure, most unit inspections are just dog & pony bullshit, but this is a hospital for shit’s sake. Standards must be upheld.

All of you should write or call your duly elected Congressional Representatives and Senators and ask them when the last time was that they went to a military hospital to see the troops and check on their care, morale, and welfare.

Deploying soldiers from the South Carolina National Guard are stuck in Biloxi, Mississippi at Camp Shelby because neither the Army nor the state will pay for their bus fare (yeah, bus fare, not plane fare) to come home on pre-deployment leave before heading out to Third World Purgatory, yet Nancy freakin’ Pelosi, Speaker of the House, is bitching about how the military transport jet at her beck & call isn’t big enough to haul around all of her lackeys & lobbyist bootlickers (who shouldn’t even be on a military flight in the first fucking place) across the country without having to make a refueling stop. Unreal. Well now, Fuck You Very Much, Madame Speaker. Matter of fact, Double Fuck You. She acts like she has to deplane at a dirt field in Omaha and wait while terrorists pinpoint her with laser beams….the plane would stop for maybe 20 minutes at a secure military field and refuel and be on the way again before she can finish her Perrier.

I can think of nearly 3500 reasons that she should be thankful every day for her freedom and her very privileged position. And I can think of over 24,000 reasons for her and the other 534 members of the 110th Congress to get off the golf course, cut short the 3-martini power lunches, and get their elected asses over to 7100 Georgia Avenue in Northwest DC and 8901 Rockville Pike in Bethesda and personally thank everyone they see.

Note: as of the time I write this, the death toll in Iraq is listed as 3,190 in Iraq and 371 in Afghanistan, and the wounded in Iraq as 23, 785 and 1,062 in Afghanistan. By the time you read this, it will unfortunately be higher.

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