Category Archives: VA
Paul Reickhoff, of IAVA, has a piece up at HuffPo about the latest reports showing Walter Reed Army Hospital is still a quagmire and our wounded soldiers are still suffering. The 32 page GAO report is here for your viewing. Below a short blurb from Paul’s HuffPo writeup;
This latest report joins the increasing chorus of bipartisan commissions, independent review groups, and task forces which all confirm that the DoD and the VA are ill-prepared to meet the needs of returning servicemembers. Among its findings, the GAO concluded that there has been little progress in rectifying staffing shortfalls, facilitating VA/DoD data sharing, and streamlining disability evaluation systems. Processing disability payments still takes an average of 177 days. Furthermore, efforts to improve the care provided to servicemembers with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) have also been largely unsuccessful: only 6 of the Army’s 32 Warrior Transition Units had completed training for all staff. (You can read the complete report here.)
The bottom line: the problems of Walter Reed have not been fixed. Not even close. More than seven months have passed since the major problems were revealed by the Washington Post– and after seven months, our veterans continue to wait. While Congress and the President went on vacation this summer, people like my courageous friend Annette McLeod and her wounded husband Wendell were paying the price for our governments negligence. Our nation’s heroes and their families deserve better.
The bottom line is that BushCo will leave this disgusting mess for the next president to fix as well. Just like his fucking war…
Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley, the Army’s surgeon general jumped before someone tossed him under the bus. Can I get an amen? The Army has appointed Kiley’s deputy, Maj. Gen. Gale S. Pollock, as the acting surgeon general while an advisory board is formed to evaluate candidates for Kiley’s replacement. Army officials said today that the board is likely to meet for the first time in April and will then choose an officer from within the Army Medical Command. President Bush would then have to approve the officer, and the Senate would hold confirmation hearings.
The Army has figured out it needs to check ALL it’s hospitals and outpatient services at other locations:
The VA is ordering its 1,400 hospitals and clinics to report on the quality of their facilities to determine if squalid conditions found at Walter Reed exist elsewhere.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson issued the directive in an internal memorandum sent last week to the VA’s medical center directors. He said “recent events” compelled him to redouble efforts to improve the physical environment at outpatient center and medical facilities.
When it comes to supporting our troops and veterans, there are many bloggers who walk the walk as they talk their talk. Charlie, Tammara and REB 84 are three who I have the pleasure of knowing, if only on the ‘internets’ through emails and their blogs. These are individuals that spend much of their lives educating the public and our elected officials about the human cost of the wars our country wages. Tony Snow might call dead soldiers ‘just a number’ and Bush may call them ‘a comma’ , but I choose to believe that most people inherently care about the human cost of war and human suffering. I might be deluded and god knows that is entirely possible, but I just couldn’t go through life thinking people are cold, calculating, unfeeling individuals by nature. If I wanted to feel that way, I would watch the local TV News.
No, uncaring and warmongering are learned emotions and responses. Unless of course you happen to be Dick Cheney, but I digress.
Tammara and the two gents I named have raised my awareness of DU-Depleted Uranium. It’s something our military has labeled a ‘necessary evil.’
Well, Depleted Uranium is outright fucking evil if you listen to scientists who know what this nasty shit really does. The United States government sent Dr. Doug Rokke to the Middle East during and after the first Gulf War. He was sent to investigate the effects and amounts of DU left there by our military.
Upon returning home, Dr. Rokke became sick from the very substance he was sent to investigate. He was put on 40% disability due to his hazardous service. His reward, our government keeps putting him back into action checking the latest DU rounds are troops are exploding all over Iraq. At least he is supporting our troops. The problem is, he submits his reports and the federal government does nothing with them.
Doug Rokke now lectures on Depleted Uranium and its tragic effects, one of which is available here as a podcast to download. The podcast is a lecture from last year. His lecture is very blunt. Dr. Rokke doesn’t mince words. He says that war’s objective is to kill, and that DU weapons are the cream of the ever-lovin crop…he doesn’t deny that fact. What he tells us is…DU is the “gift that keeps on giving”….years and decades after the War is won or lost, casualties continue to mount up long after the tanks have left and the soldiers are back home…safe in their own beds.
By the way, the only way to remove the hazards of DU is to totally encase the ‘thing’ blown up and the surrounding topsoil. To wrap it up like a ‘huge hershey’s kiss’. Then you dig down 6 inches at least and remove the topsoil for roughly 1000 feet around. It’s a process the military isn’t willing to do. Seriously, they removed 25 blown up vehicles from the Gulf War I…shipped them back to the states…and it took them 3 years to figure out how to totally destroy the vehicles and remove all trace of DU.
What did our government do after this? They decided not to do THAT again. It is too expensive and too messy to think about, or deal with. How does our government plan to deal with the health problems of the Iraqi citizen’s that have been exposed to DU in Iraq? I mean, think about it..we used those ‘bunker busters’ in the cities.
Officially, the US Government does not recognize overexposure to Depleted Uranium as a medical illness. They won’t treat our men for it…because basically they say it doesn’t exist. Its not on the books, sorry…come back later after you have developed cancer or another of the side effects of DU overexposure.
We have left a toxic wasteland all over the world. DU has been used in one form or another since the 40’s. The level of use during the 1st Gulf War was the highest…before the current one anyway…
Dr. Michael Kilpatrick is the medical man for the military. This guy is the one who states overexposure to Depleted Uranium isn’t on the books, therefore it must not exist. It would be prudent to note that US Military does have a training film about exposure to DU. The problem is, much of the equipment issued to deal with an instance of exposure to DU is faulty. It is old. It is outdated, like so much of the equipment we sent our soldiers off to this war with. Most of the time, our soldiers are exposed to DU without their knowledge. Many have actually picked up pieces of contaminated, melted equipment and fashioned jewelry and other memorabilia out of it.
There are hundreds of miles of blown-up-shit all over Iraq. The Depleted Uranium won’t go away and neither will the costs of dealing with its victims. The military’s healthcare budget is off the charts. It’s going to get a lot worse before it gets any better. But cutting corners on this issue and burying our head in the sand is fuckwittery at its worst my dear reader. If they governments makes our troops use these weapons of mass destruction, they have the obligation to take care of them when they get sick.
Truth is hard to find if it’s not on the books, and it just wouldn’t do, to tell on yourself if you’re the U.S. military. But the following statistics from the VA tell us part of the story:
“At the completion of the Gulf War, when we came back to the United States in the fall of 1991, we had a total casualty count of 760: 294 dead, a little over 400 wounded or ill. But the casualty rate now for Gulf War veterans is approximately 30 percent. Of those stationed in the theater, including after the conflict, 221,000 have been awarded disability, according to a Veterans Affairs (VA) report issued September 10, 2002.”
It is not that complicated. It isn’t friggin rocket science. If you were/are in the military in Iraq and breathed in the desert air, you were breathing in radioactive bullshit, especially in the combat theatre. The question about your health is how often and for how long you were exposed. The great your exposure, the more likely DU will take lasting effects on a your body. The government however…does not even care enough to publish the findings of Dr. Doug Rokke and other experts. This problem is not a question for either the republicans or democrats. They both share the blame. All administrations, including both the Bush administrations have been complicit in hiding the problems and illnesses associated with Depleted Uranium by refusing to admit they exist in any appreciable numbers.
Ain’t that a shitty way to support the troops?
As well he should be. Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley ran W.R.A.H. before he was kicked upstairs in 2004.
As this WaPo article out today states:
“Kiley, the commander of Walter Reed from 2002 to 2004, has been accused of being brash and indifferent to concerns raised about problems there. After a series of Washington Post articles described the outpatient conditions at Walter Reed, Kiley said the problems “weren’t serious and there weren’t a lot of them,” and that they were not “emblematic of a process of Walter Reed that has abandoned soldiers and their families.”
Kiley will be dancing with the devil today, trying to cover his ass. He should of been fired first and formost. He is a worthless scumbag, it was on his watch the outpatient mess began and by many accounts, he ignored it. Kiley is a climber..and he reached the top pinnacle in 04. Why didn’t he see the problems start when the war wounded started coming in droves. Surely staff complained about the mounting problems.
As this former Doctor who worked with Kiley states:
“His last concern was his concern for the patient,” said retired Col. Robert M. Tabachnikoff, chief of obstetrics and gynecology under Kiley at Landstuhl in the mid-1990s. Tabachnikoff said Kiley wanted to discharge new mothers within 24 hours of delivery to keep beds free and counted phone calls as office visits. “He was more concerned for meeting requirements and advancing his own career. . . . At last, it’s catching up with him. His leadership style is being exposed.”
Another federal fuckwit kicked up the ladder. I hope the hearings point the fickle finger of fate at Kiley. The higher up they are..the harder they fall. This about care of our wounded soldiers. Its not about saving money or ignoring the warning signs and handing off the problem to Weightman.
Oh,yeah..another gem of info..Kiley also had a hand in prisoner healthcare at Gitmo and Abu-Ghraib. He whitewashed that report and problems too. Wotta guy.
WASHINGTON – The Army said Thursday that the two-star general in charge of Walter Reed Army Medical Center has been relieved of command following disclosures about inadequate treatment of wounded soldiers.
Maj. Gen. George W. Weightman, who was commanding general of the North Atlantic Regional Medical Command as well as Walter Reed hospital, was relieved of command by Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey.
In a brief announcement, the Army said service leaders had “lost trust and confidence” in Weightman’s leadership abilities “to address needed solutions for soldier outpatient care” at Walter Reed.
This man isn’t the reason the bureaucratic bs overwhelms our wounded soldiers. That crap has been going on for decades, back to the Korean War. But a Sacrificial Lamb he is…
Bldg. 18 has been rundown for ages as well. Its the amount of injured coming back that is bogging down the system and overwhelming it.
Another issue is the military’s clampdown on service personnel speaking to reporters. They have shut the door very quickly and locked it, canceling the previously approved visits of the Discovery Channel and CNN who were going to do pieces on the military which had nothing to do with the W.R. fiasco:
“I wanted to spend some time with the trainers there and show how they instill core values and integrity in these troops,” said Christenson. “They refused me access because Michelle Manhart was part of the story. They did not want to support another story that had Michelle Manhart in it.”
If you can’t say something nice..you can’t say anything apparently..or else they are afraid of what other skeletons will be flying out of the closet.
“This is troublesome because it keeps the average person from learning the real facts here,” he said. “They are trying to censor the news, in this case it is bad news. The military has gone into a bunker mentality.” He also had heard reports from some reporters that casualty numbers were not being released as freely as in the past. “They are trying to manage the news,” he said. “There has to be some middle ground and in the past there has been middle ground.”