Remember Walter Reed? After the huge scandal last spring, President Bush and the members of Congress promised to improve troops' care. They promised to take action and get our wounded veterans the care they were waiting for. They promised to make things right. Well, that promise has been broken.
This week, we got definitive proof that our nation's wounded veterans are still waiting for government leaders to deliver much needed resources. According to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the response to shoddy outpatient treatment at Walter Reed Army Medical Center has been woefully inadequate.
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.
Americans were outraged when they first saw the images from Walter Reed. It is time for them to be outraged again.