Walter Reed general loses his command

March 1st, 2007  

Topic: Walter Reed general loses his command

Walter Reed general loses his command
By ROBERT BURNS, AP Military Writer

The Army fired the general in charge of Walter Reed Army Medical Center after disclosures about inadequate treatment of Iraq vets and other wounded soldiers.

The action on Maj. Gen. George W. Weightman, who was commanding general of the North Atlantic Regional Medical Command as well as Walter Reed hospital, was announced Thursday 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." He had headed Walter Reed since last August.

The Army and the Defense Department began their own investigations after The Washington Post published stories last week that documented problems in soldiers' housing and in the medical bureaucracy at Walter Reed, which has been called the Army's premier caregiver for soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.

After a visit to the hospital compound last Friday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said those found to have been responsible for the problems would be "held accountable."

On Thursday he issued a brief statement endorsing Harvey's action.

"The care and welfare of our wounded men and women in uniform demand the highest standard of excellence and commitment that we can muster as a government," Gates said. "When this standard is not met, I will insist on swift and direct corrective action and, where appropriate, accountability up the chain of command."

It was not clear whether Gates insisted on Weightman's firing. A Pentagon official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said Gates was "actively involved" in the firing decision.

In an interview with several reporters two days before the first Post story was published, Weightman acknowledged shortcomings at Walter Reed but also said the problems were magnified because of the facility's location in the nation's capital. "We're a fishbowl," he said, noting that being in Washington makes it easier for complaining patients and their families to draw the interest of members of Congress.

An outside panel of former military officials and former congressmen, set up last week by Gates, held its first meeting Thursday at the Pentagon. Headed by two former Army secretaries, Togo West and Jack Marsh, the panel is reviewing treatment and administrative processes at Walter Reed and at the National Naval Medical Center at Bethesda, Md. It is supposed to report its findings and recommendations by April 16.

The panel's charter, released Thursday, identifies its main goal as finding the "critical shortcomings" in rehabilitative care, administrative processes and quality of life for injured and sick troops, and to recommend how to fix the problems.

The problems at Walter Reed pertain not to the quality of medical treatment for wounded soldiers but rather to the care for those who are well enough to be outpatients, living in Army housing at Walter Reed. One building was singled out in the Post reports as being in bad repair, including having mold on interior walls.

The Army also has acknowledged problems with the system it uses to evaluate wounded soldiers in determining whether they are well enough to return to active duty.

At a breakfast meeting with reporters Thursday, in which he refused to discuss any aspect of the Walter Reed investigations, Harvey said the Army also was reviewing conditions at its medical centers elsewhere in the country. He would not be more specific.

Being relieved of command means Weightman is almost certain to have lost his future in the Army.

A native of Vermont, he graduated from West Point in 1973 and got his medical degree from the University of Vermont. He later served as the surgeon for the 82nd Airborne Division, including during Desert Storm.

He has held a number of medical commands, including service as a leading surgeon during the initial stages of the Iraq war.

Weightman's duties at Walter Reed will be assumed temporarily by Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley, the commander of U.S. Medical Command, until a permanent replacement is found, Harvey said.

"The Army is moving quickly to address issues regarding outpatient care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center," the announcement said.

Last week the Army took disciplinary action against several lower-level soldiers at Walter Reed, but officials have declined to publicly confirm any details of those actions.

Source: Yahoo News
March 2nd, 2007  
Team Infidel
'bout time
March 2nd, 2007  
CAN roll uphill.

Similar Topics
Walter Reed Patients Told To Keep Quiet
Walter Reed Tenants To Get Internet Access
Lawmakers To Scrutinize Walter Reed
Review At Walter Reed Is Ordered
Walter Reed Stories Factual But Unfair, Medical Chief Says