Walter Reed Hospital Commander Removed from Post

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. George W. Weightman was removed from his command post at Walter Reed Army Medical Center because of significant failures in the facility’s outpatient-care system. In a statement, the Army said that “senior Army leadership had lost trust and confidence in the commander’s leadership abilities” and that he will be replaced temporarily by Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley, commanding general of U.S. Army Medical Command.

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates said he endorsed the decision by Secretary of the Army Fran Harvey to relieve Weightman of his command. “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 explained. “When this standard is not met, I will insist on swift and direct corrective action and, where appropriate, accountability up the chain of command.”

In February, a Washington Post investigation revealed that the standard of outpatient care at Walter Reed, the Army’s top medical facility, had fallen to appallingly low levels. The paper cited “deplorable living conditions for some wounded outpatient soldiers at Walter Reed and bureaucratic problems that prevented many from getting the care they need.” The Post also reported today that officials at the medical center “had heard complaints about outpatient neglect from family members, veterans groups, and members of Congress for more than three years without acting effectively to deal with the problems.”

The Post’s exposé described “squalid” living conditions for many wounded soldiers that included mold, rot, mice, and cockroaches. It also characterized the bureaucratic entanglements that faced many wounded and mentally ill soldiers as excessive and troublesome.

The Army said today that it is “moving quickly to address issues regarding outpatient care” at the hospital. Secretary Harvey has ordered the implementation of an Army Action Plan that would focus on soldier accountability, health, and welfare; infrastructure; the medical administrative process; and information dissemination. There will also be an independent review conducted by the Department of Defense that will examine “military-medical rehabilitative conditions and administrative care.”

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