An article in the Washington Post today revealed that officials were indeed aware of the neglect of many outpatients at Walter Reed. For more than three years, family members of the outpatients, as well as veterans groups and members of Congress, voiced their complaints about the treatment of outpatients.
From the Washington Post:
Top officials at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, including the Army's surgeon general, have heard complaints about outpatient neglect from family members, veterans groups and members of Congress for more than three years.
A procession of Pentagon and Walter Reed officials expressed surprise last week about the living conditions and bureaucratic nightmares faced by wounded soldiers staying at the D.C. medical facility. But as far back as 2003, the commander of Walter Reed, Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley, who is now the Army's top medical officer, was told that soldiers who were wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan were languishing and lost on the grounds, according to interviews.
Steve Robinson, director of veterans affairs at Veterans for America, said he ran into Kiley in the foyer of the command headquarters at Walter Reed shortly after the Iraq war began and told him that "there are people in the barracks who are drinking themselves to death and people who are sharing drugs and people not getting the care they need."
Last October, Joyce Rumsfeld, the wife of then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, was taken to Walter Reed by a friend concerned about outpatient treatment. She attended a weekly meeting, called Girls Time Out, at which wives, girlfriends and mothers of soldiers exchange stories and offer support.
According to three people who attended the gathering, Rumsfeld listened quietly. Some of the women did not know who she was. At the end of the meeting, Rumsfeld asked one of the staff members whether she thought that the soldiers her husband was meeting on his visits had been handpicked to paint a rosy picture of their time there. The answer was yes.
When Walter Reed officials found out that Rumsfeld had visited, they told the friend who brought her -- a woman who had volunteered there many times -- that she was no longer welcome on the grounds.
This week, in a move that some soldiers viewed as reprisal for speaking to the media, the wounded troops were told that early-morning room inspections would be held and that further contact with reporters is prohibited.