Leading veteran’s hospital faces neglect

By Jamie Hufnagle
March 15, 2007

Emily Buerger

The Washington Post released an alarming warning about the condition of the nation’s leading veteran’s hospital, the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Struggling to handle the overflow of injured soldiers has caused the conditions and care to deteriorate and the soldiers to face extreme neglect.

Lester Milby is a veteran who served in the army infantry during the Korean War.

“These are people who gave up years of their lives and some of their limbs and they are living in complete squalor,” Milby said.

“It’s disgraceful.”

Mold-covered walls, rat and roach infestation and holes in the ceilings are just a few of the many problems at the facility reported in the Post. Many soldiers are not even tended to and must rely on other psychologically damaged soldiers to help with their care.

“I am astounded by these conditions, especially being that this hospital is in Washington D.C. where they have all of the senators and congressmen. It’s the hub of all political activity,” Milby said.

The elevators do not work. The carpets are stained. Leaks are prevalent. A constant stench fills the air. At times, the soldiers are even faced with a lack of both heat and water.

Heidi Galke, veteran of the United States Navy, is “disgusted” by the conditions at the facility.

“The administration doesn’t put its funding in the right place when it comes to the military,” Galke said.

“The people whose job it is to ensure the well-being of our soldiers are just spread too thin to be taking proper care or their patients. They are spread too thin just like the nation’s practical budget.”

Overworked staff members find it hard to tend to even the smallest needs including but not limited to the feeding of the soldiers and their families and even helping the brain-damaged soldiers remember their next appointment, according to the Post.

Lauren Mattioni, a sophomore social work major, was not aware of the detrimental conditions the soldiers are dealing with. “This is completely shocking,” Mattioni said.

“How could the administration let the conditions get so bad? Their priorities should be taking care of these veterans and making sure they are well maintained for all of the sacrifices they have made for our country.”

Veterans groups and members of congress have expressed outrage over the conditions at Walter Reed. The White House has begun an investigation and promised rapid changes within the facility.

Milby has high hopes for the changes but is skeptical of the administration’s promises.

“I can only hope that they will follow through with the plan to improve the wretched conditions at the hospital. It will be an embarrassment to our country if swift changes are not made.”

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Jamie Hufnagle

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