Military punishing Walter Reed troops for talking to the media?

posted at 11:46 am on February 28, 2007 by Allahpundit

So says the Princess, quoting the Air Force Times (which, fyi, is owned by Gannett, not the Air Force). Clarify something for me, military readers: by “soldiers” they mean military staff at WR, not patients, right? The article refers to “soldiers” filling out medical evaluation forms and finding mold and mice in their quarters, but I simply can’t believe they’d ask even able-bodied convalescent troops to be ready for inspection every day at 7 a.m.

Either way, it’s clear they’re taking measures to blackout the media on hospital conditions going forward. Exactly the wrong move. I hope they pay for it.

Update: John from Wuzzadem points to this passage from WaPo’s original article about neglect at WR:

Next came 7 a.m. formation, one way Walter Reed tries to keep track of hundreds of wounded. Formation is also held to maintain some discipline. Soldiers limp to the old Red Cross building in rain, ice and snow. Army regulations say they can’t use umbrellas, even here. A triple amputee has mastered the art of putting on his uniform by himself and rolling in just in time. Others are so gorked out on pills that they seem on the verge of nodding off.

It’s not the same thing as having one’s room ready for inspection, but it certainly puts the AFT article in some perspective. How about it, military readers? Is this much ado about nothing or not?

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From WaPo:

But the wounded of Mologne House [are still soldiers — Hooah! — so their lives are ruled by platoon sergeants. Each morning they must rise at dawn for formation, though many are half-snowed on pain meds and sleeping pills.

(According to the article, Mologne House, is a short-term lodging facility for military family members and retirees visiting Walter Reed and Washington. But the hotel has been completely overtaken by the war-wounded, housing some 300 soldiers, Marines and their family members.)

And this:

Next came 7 a.m. formation, one way Walter Reed tries to keep track of hundreds of wounded. Formation is also held to maintain some discipline. Soldiers limp to the old Red Cross building in rain, ice and snow. Army regulations say they can’t use umbrellas, even here. A triple amputee has mastered the art of putting on his uniform by himself and rolling in just in time. Others are so gorked out on pills that they seem on the verge of nodding off.

John from WuzzaDem on February 28, 2007 at 12:04 PM

Clarify something for me, military readers: by “soldiers” they mean military staff at WR, not patients, right?

The patients are soldiers also, just as are the staff.

but I simply can’t believe they’d ask even able-bodied convalescent troops to be ready for inspection every day at 7 a.m.

They can, and depending on the type of convalescence they do.

Either way, it’s clear they’re taking measures to blackout the media on hospital conditions going forward. Exactly the wrong move. Exactly the wrong move.

I agree.

Lawrence on February 28, 2007 at 12:06 PM

Let me see if I’ve got this right.

We went to war in March 2003. One can assume casualties began arriving at Walter Reed Hospital not long thereafter. The Dhimmis and the MSM have been screaching about the tens of thousands of wounded soldiers for years on end. The Dhimmis and the MSM can’t complete a sentence without saying they support our troops.

Nearly four years after our troops first put themselves in harm’s way, it comes to light that the conditions at Walter Reed are abhorrent and the treatment of wounded soldiers is way below acceptable standards.

This raises the question, why did it take the Dhimmis and the MSM four years to take notice? Haven’t they visited the facilities for the last four years? Hmmmm.

And, I thought they supported our troops.

fogw on February 28, 2007 at 12:36 PM

This raises the question, why did it take the Dhimmis and the MSM four years to take notice? Haven’t they visited the facilities for the last four years? Hmmmm.

And, I thought they supported our troops.

fogw on February 28, 2007 at 12:36 PM

I dunno. But I bet the answer partly is that they are up to something rotten and traitorous.

The reason the administration and the DOD (you know, the people in charge) didn’t know? Oh sure, any opportunity to pick on Bush.

If consistency is indeed the hobgoblin of small minds, you must have a huge, as in intergalactically huge, mind!!!

honora on February 28, 2007 at 12:44 PM

A few points…

Military theory has been around for abou t 5000 years now. Any civilian look at the military is going to be scewed because they don’t understand the background.

There ARE internal means in the Chain of Command to take care of redress. In this situation the Chain of Command failed! Where were the Seargents who should have been in charge of these buildings? Who should have been screaming there heads off through the Chain of Command??? Where was the Command Master Seargant? Crap, I NEVER had men under me that I did NOT see their berthing compartments EVERY day!!! Its part of the JOB.

My “guess”, from looking at it from the outside, but from plenty of experience dealing with Military Hospitals, is that the military side of things was allowed to slip… and I will bet my bottom dollar that there have been a LOT of enlisted people who were relieved of duty over this (because the Officer Class very seldom eats its own).

This is NOT punishment… this is trying to re-militarize a Hospital Chain of Command that has slipped out of control.

I’ll bet you they have a new Command NCO….

As to morning formation? Military theory is that ESPECIALLY in garrison, you MUST remind soldiers that they are soldiers daily, and one main tool is through Ceremony…
and my guess is to have a formation, you have to have it that early as otherwise men would be missing it due to Doctors appointments and therapy…. that its at 6 AM may be horrible to a civilian, but thats pretty normal for the military…

Romeo13 on February 28, 2007 at 12:48 PM

One thing about the military almost completely misunderstood by civilians, but a fundamental part of life in uniform is that things will always suck.

Embrace the Suck

The problem here is that civilian reporters are unable to see the difference between the standard level of suckiness that part of military life, and the negligent suckiness of soldiers being housed in a sub-standard off-post crackhouse.

After breaking my leg in a field exercise in Korea, I was taken to 121st General Hospital in Yongsan. They took care of me right away, but after my cast was set, I was handed a pair of crutches and some motrin and told that I would have to outprocess myself and arrange my own transportation back to home base. I was a butterbar so I didn’t have an NCO or someone else to look out for me. I had to hobble myself down to the bus stop in my still-mud caked and torn BDUs, no hat(cover), to find the right bus to get me back to my unit.

If I tell my story to the WaPo, I would probably be on the front page. If I tell my story to a vet, they will probably come back with an even worse story about the one time they were screwed by the military. Then we would both laugh and get a beer. That’s military life. Embrace the Suck.

BohicaTwentyTwo on February 28, 2007 at 12:49 PM

I dunno. But I bet the answer partly is that they are up to something rotten and traitorous.

No honora, the fact is they don’t support our troops and there’s plenty of evidence to support it.

This does not suggest that I disagree with your rational. Being up to something rotten and traitorous is par for the course. I cite Murtha and Kerry as prime examples.

If consistency is indeed the hobgoblin of small minds, you must have a huge, as in intergalactically huge, mind!!!

Nice. Speaking of par for the course.

fogw on February 28, 2007 at 1:02 PM

Embrace the Suck

The problem here is that civilian reporters are unable to see the difference between the standard level of suckiness that part of military life, and the negligent suckiness of soldiers being housed in a sub-standard off-post crackhouse.

After breaking my leg in a field exercise in Korea, I was taken to 121st General Hospital in Yongsan. They took care of me right away, but after my cast was set, I was handed a pair of crutches and some motrin and told that I would have to outprocess myself and arrange my own transportation back to home base. I was a butterbar so I didn’t have an NCO or someone else to look out for me. I had to hobble myself down to the bus stop in my still-mud caked and torn BDUs, no hat(cover), to find the right bus to get me back to my unit.

If I tell my story to the WaPo, I would probably be on the front page. If I tell my story to a vet, they will probably come back with an even worse story about the one time they were screwed by the military. Then we would both laugh and get a beer. That’s military life. Embrace the Suck.

BohicaTwentyTwo on February 28, 2007 at 12:49 PM

LOL. My Dad used to say that until you served in the military you had no real appreciation of the word “dysfunctional”

honora on February 28, 2007 at 1:05 PM

My interpretation is “soldier-convalescents.”

As far, “I simply can’t believe …,” remember they ARE convalescing, they are not in the ICU.

I’m still marveling at fogw’s comment. He means that this is all Keith Olbermann’s fault. Wow! Breath-taking. It really is BDS in reverse, MDS?

commissar on February 28, 2007 at 1:10 PM

It’s been almost 6 years since I retired from the Army so what I write here may not be totally accurate. But the source is AR 600-60 Physical Performance Evaluation System. Every soldier has a physical profile, PULHES. PULHES stands for Physical capabilities, Upper Extremities, Lower Extremities, Hearing, Eyes (Vision), and Psychiatric. If you have no limitations your profile would be 111111. If for example you had a problem with your vision but it was correctable your profile would read 111121. There are two types of profiles, temporary and permanent. If you were to break your leg you would be placed on temporary profile. However, if your injury caused you to lose use of a leg your profile would be permanent. In both cases your PULHES would probably read 113111. But again one is only temporary and in time you will revert back to full duty. Each military occupation (MOS) has a minimum acceptable profile. If you receive a permanent profile which conflicts with the minimum acceptable profile you are placed in a medical holding company until a medical review board reviews your case. The medical review board job is to look at you profile and then determine if its in the best interest of the military to a) Leave you in your current job or b) reclassify you into another job or c) medically discharge the soldier from the military. If a soldier is discharged and the injury occurred in the line of duty then the board will attach the percentage of disability the soldier is to receive from the VA office. During this process the soldier is in a medical hold company he is still a soldier. Each soldier in the medical hold company is given a profile. The profile states what limitations the soldier has, e.g., no prolonged standing. Soldiers in a medical hold company can still be required to work as long as it doesn’t violate that individual soldier’s profile. As far as talking to the media, well that’s a whole different issue.

MSG(RET), USA

SPIFF1669 on February 28, 2007 at 1:12 PM

I’m still marveling at fogw’s comment. He means that this is all Keith Olbermann’s fault. Wow! Breath-taking. It really is BDS in reverse, MDS?

commissar on February 28, 2007 at 1:10 PM

How do you know what I mean and when did I mention who was at fault for the conditions at Walter Reed?

And kindly refrain from using my screen-name in the same sentence with Olberdunce. Ouch, that hurts!

fogw on February 28, 2007 at 1:23 PM

fogw on February 28, 2007 at 12:36 PM

I understand you’re not placing blame, but your question should read: “After four years why did it take this long for anyone to notice, and why are the conditions like this in the first place?”
I’m not sure I understand what Dhimmitude has to due with this.

SouthernDem on February 28, 2007 at 2:00 PM


SPIFF1669 on February 28, 2007 at 1:12 PM

What I was going to say and much more. The key word I picked up was that they were on hold, or more precisely, medical hold.

Lt. Bohica is right about his story. There is always someone with a worse one to tell. My biggest fear of nationalized health care is my experience with military health care. God Bless the medics and corpsmen who are saving lives. But the medical bureaucracy is what made me fear going to sick bay for anything other than life threatening causes.

As for daily inspections, it’s not that out of the ordinary. In the Army, we had 2 or 3 man rooms. When we left out for morning formation, they had to be inspection ready. Top Sarge may or may not go through them, but woe unto you if he did and yours looked like a dumpster.

On ship, the X.O. would assign a junior officer to do a daily messing and berthing inspection. Once a week, the X.O. himself would do the rounds. Same thing for cleanliness. And every morning, when you showed up for muster, you had better be squared away, or risk the consequences.

As to talking to the press, I would as soon talk to Jane Fonda as to a reporter. Although nowadays they appear to be one and the same. A bitchin’ soldier is a happy soldier. But the bitchin’ is to be kept in house as far as I’m concerned.

TugboatPhil on February 28, 2007 at 2:30 PM

SouthernDem,

You’re right, I’m picking on the Democrats. I get outraged everytime they pretend how much they care about the troops, when their words are not supported by their actions. I don’t find the Republicans (most of them) playing that kind of masquerade.

I can’t name a single Republican who ever called our troops baby-killers, who called them cold-blooded killers, who painted the entire armed forces with a tainted brush after a few undisciplined soldiers got out of hand at Abu Guraib, who compared the actions of our troops to Hitler’s Gestapo or Pol Pot. That’s a characteristic of Dems …. Kerry, Murtha, Durbin, etc.

These disgusting comments made by Democrats in both the house and senate are taking place while our boys are out there fighting the enemy in a foreign land. And they have the chutzpah to say they support our troops. That defies any kind of logic. It’s been said a thousand times but I’ll say it again …. they embolden our enemy who is doing all it can to break our will to win. Cheney’s right, Pelosi’s wrong. Republicans want to win, Democrats find satisfaction and accomplishment in losing.

Now in their 3rd or 4th attempt to convince their lunatic base that they mean business, the Democrats want to pass another resolution, one that determines new Rules of Engagement for our troops. They want to tell them who they can fight, and who they can’t, when they should only support and when they can actively engage. They are doing all they can to lose this war and put our troops in dangerous situations that can and should be avoided at all costs. Try convincing Biden of that, he thinks it a grandiose idea that will save the day. THESE PEOPLE ARE DANGEROUS!

My son happens to be one of those in harm’s way, so I will continue to lay it on the traitorous Democrats.

If they want me to lay off, they can start acting like patriots instead of partisans.

fogw on February 28, 2007 at 2:39 PM

As a veteran I agree completely with BohicaTwentyTwo and Spiff1669 – their characterizations are entirely accurate.

In essence, it comes down to standards. Just because a soldier is injured doesn’t mean he/she can lay around all day, do nothing, and be a slob. The other services use profiles as well and OUTPATIENT soldiers, which these are, still have to maintain a modicum of military discipline. For INPATIENT soldiers, those actually in taking up a hospital bed, it’s quite a bit different.

NPP on February 28, 2007 at 3:19 PM

Hell, they get to sleep in until 0700?

I got up at 0430 most every day for my 20+ years. Morning Formation was at 0600. Even when I was an outpatient at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.

What’s the current phrase? Embrace the Suck.

opusrex on February 28, 2007 at 4:55 PM

Until last fall, there was still a problem at the 121st Hospital in Seoul for patients who were evacuated to the hospital by helicopter. One patient from Daegu complained that she was discharged by the hospital and had to arrange on her own to get clothes to wear and to get transportation for the 180 mile trip back to Daegu. In October 2006, the Hospital reported that it had changed its procedures to help patients get clothes and back home.

http://www.estripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=38842&archive=true

slp on February 28, 2007 at 5:04 PM

What part of war being ugly don’t people understand?

We need to nut-the-hell-up and keep moving.

unamused on February 28, 2007 at 5:35 PM

I have been to Walter Reed and it is far from a run-down hellhole as some ill-informed posters on this thread believe. The Mologne Hotel is a particularly nice place for the ambulatory patients to stay, basically full of furnished efficiency apartments. It’s nicer than most apartment buildings in downtown DC. Heck, I’d be happy to stay there on a trip. It’s far better than the $40/night motels I stay in on the road.

As for morning formations, when I was in a military hospital thirty years ago for a knee operation, they did have inspections for my bedside table. I think it’s mentally healthy to require some small discipline on the part of the patient so that mentally you just don’t turn to mush.

Tantor on February 28, 2007 at 6:33 PM

fogw on February 28, 2007 at 2:39 PM

I wish all the Soldiers could read your comment fogw, and all the conservatives and liberals too.

Embrace the Suck.

BohicaTwentyTwo on February 28, 2007 at 12:49 PM

Not to diminish the hospital conditions or their improvement, but your comment was fabulous. I mentioned before that I had an Army-general as a next door neighbor for a few years. He smoked a lot and died in his early seventies, lungs having collapsed. His wife often said “XXXXXX, you’re one of the very few women he suffers”. I asked him often about Soldiers and military life. One thing he mentioned was “…as long as they gripe, all’s well; when they get quiet, we begin to worry”. When in DC I visit him at Arlington…and I miss him. He was a ‘strange’ and good friend.

I do agree that the media should not be blocked. On a similarly sobering note, and not related to the ‘falling apart’ conditions at this hospital, the military can never be run by civilian/media standards either.

Entelechy on March 1, 2007 at 12:17 AM

but I simply can’t believe they’d ask even able-bodied convalescent troops to be ready for inspection every day at 7 a.m.

Not unusual.

Either way, it’s clear they’re taking measures to blackout the media on hospital conditions going forward. Exactly the wrong move. I hope they pay for it.

I wrote Allah and Michelle an email about an experience I had when I returned from the first Gulf War and was placed on med hold. Michelle included it in her post on this subject.

Did these patients voice their complaints to someone who took no action?

Did they take it up the chain?

I haven’t seen anything reported that answers those questions.

When I returned, we were housed in WWII barracks with holes in the floor, no screens on the windows, only a screen door for a door, (hot in Oklahoma in August) and the latrines and showers were across a street in a separate building. Not easy to get to on crutches at night.

Those housed there for months before I arrived took their complaints up the chain before I got there. By the time I arrived, the complaint reached an IG’s office at the Pentagon. An inspector was sent, and we were moved out of that building by the end of the day into another one. The building we were in was condemned and torn down shortly after.
As far as I am aware, no complaint was aired to any media.
The retaliation started within a week.
In that Monday mornings formation (yes we had them 5 days a week and other duties as well), about 15 soldiers were called out and told to have their medical records at Patient Administration by 9am.
Within a week, about 7 of those called out were told to clear post, they were being released from Active Duty. Their medical problems were not deemded valid by Patient Administration to hold them on AD. One was an SSG in my unit who eventually had to pay for surgery on his wrist and shoulder out of his own pocket.
I was scheduled for surgery so I did not have to take my records to Patient Admin.
The ONLY other AD soldier we in that med hold barracks interacted with was our 1SG. There were no other AD soldiers assigned to our med hold unit since we were separated from the regular AD soldiers.

If you receive a permanent profile which conflicts with the minimum acceptable profile you are placed in a medical holding company until a medical review board reviews your case.
SPIFF1669 on February 28, 2007 at 1:12 PM

Another reason for being placed in this med holding company is if your unit is still deployed and you need ongoing medical care, or if your unit is back at their garrison in another location or state.

If a soldier is discharged and the injury occurred in the line of duty then the board will attach the percentage of disability the soldier is to receive from the VA office.
SPIFF1669 on February 28, 2007 at 1:12 PM

This is incorrect. The review board, if they assign a percentage of disability, is assigning a percentage of military disability. If greater than 30%, the soldier can be medically discharged from the military after which they will receive certain benefits such as possibly a monthly disability payment from the military, as well as commissary or PX priviledges.
Once medically discharged, the soldier must then apply for VA disability to receive ongoing medical care from them. Usually the VA will provide the same percentage of disability as the military provided. This will mean the veteran will then getthe benefits provided by his/her military medical retirement, ongoing medical care from the VA, as well as a monthly disability payment from the VA in addition to whatever military benefits are provided. Unless the law has been changed, a military retiree’s retirement payment is reduced by the amount of disability pay from the VA, known as concurrent receipt.

But the bitchin’ is to be kept in house as far as I’m concerned.
TugboatPhil on February 28, 2007 at 2:30 PM

Agreed. It was never mentioned how they tried addressing any complaints before going to the media.

91Veteran on March 1, 2007 at 12:43 AM

One thing I’m surprised hasn’t been brought up, (well, not surprised about the NYTimesWashPostCNNABCCBSNBCetc.ignoring it) is that this is what we could expect if we get socialized medicine.

This is one of the premier, gov’t run hospitals in the nation and they have problems like this.

This is what happens when you have a non-accountable, non-firable bureaucracy in charge of anything.

Veeshir on March 1, 2007 at 9:38 AM

“…as long as they gripe, all’s well; when they get quiet, we begin to worry”.

Ain’t that the truth.

BohicaTwentyTwo on March 1, 2007 at 10:27 AM

Well it looks as if the other shoe has dropped. The CDR of Walter Reed has now been relieved of command.

LakeRuins on March 1, 2007 at 2:22 PM