Despite expressing surprise in public, officials with Walter Reed Army Medical Center have actually known about problems in the treatment of wounded soldiers for at least three years, new reports say. Frequent complains by soldiers and their families, veterans' groups and even members of Congress have had little impact on the situation to date, according to an investigation by The Washington Post. Former Walter Reed commander Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley, now the Army's top medical officer, had been told that soldiers were facing unacceptable conditions as far back as 2003, but allegedly took no significant action.
Solders staying at Walter Reed have faced horrific conditions on site, including mice, mold, rot and cockroach-infested buildings, neglect and a general lack of safety and control. The administrative system is so flawed that soldiers have "gone missing" once they were discharged. Red flags have been everywhere, but officials have apparently ignored them, the report suggests. For example, in a 2006 internal survey by a Walter Reed clinical social worker, 75 percent of outpatients said their experience there had been stressful, unsatisfying and frustrating.
Alerted to the complaints, this week the Joint Commission conducted a two-day unscheduled inspection at Walter Reed to examine flawed discharge practices at the medical center.