Walter Reed patients told to keep quiet
By Kelly Kennedy - Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Feb 28, 2007 13:37:17 EST
Soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center’s Medical Hold Unit say they have been told they will wake up at 6 a.m. every morning and have their rooms ready for inspection at 7 a.m., and that they must not speak to the media.
This is stupid. Are they going to wake up the family members who stay with them and have them inspected as well? NOBODY would be coming into my room if my wife was sleeping, especially after she'd spent all night comforting me from pariculary bad dreams, nevre pain, and nerve twitches (a particularly annoying fact of life when your nerves regrow.)
They are doing the right things here, but going about it the wrong way. 0600? Sure, that's when most units fall-in for physical fitness. But most soldiers probably aren't taking a mixture of narcotics, sleep, pain, nerve, and depression meds at least twice (in my case, four) times a day. You think it's hard to get up at 0545 in the damned morning? I'd like the 1SG to take 1/2 of my "evening snack" and try to wake up by next April.
But they are trying to make sure the chain of command is aware of any problems in the rooms, the soldiers are present (and haven't "gone missing", or worse).
As far as not speaking to the media--well, you can't be ordered to give up a 1st ammendment right, unless the material you are yapping about is classified. Even the, FOIA is all that's needed for the press to get most info. Ordering soldiers to refer any requests for interviews on post, and requiring the Public affairs guys to be present at those interviews, is allowed, if the Garrison Commander orders it. The PAO still can't tell the soldier what to say, but he can tell him what his lane is, and to only speak about things he has personal knowledge of, and not guess.
“Some soldiers believe this is a form of punishment for the trouble soldiers caused by talking to the media,” one Medical Hold Unit soldier said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.It's more like a form of punishment for the WaPo journos who sat on the information for four months, so they'd have a more sensational story. Four months that a wounded soldier had to live in those conditions, when the reporters could have informed WRAMC they were going to do the story right now, unless it got fixed. The 6 a.m. formation is a typical knee-jerk reaction. Like I said, why not have platoon meetings in the lobby area of the mologne house (or wherever they are staying, where information can be passed higher--and lower. If they staggered the times, the CDR and 1SG could even attend all of them!
It is unusual for soldiers to have daily inspections after Basic Training.
My NCOs inspected my company barracks daily, and the 1SG weekly, and me, twice a month, plus on random weekends. It isn't that unusual.
Soldiers say their sergeant major gathered troops at 6 p.m. Monday to tell them they must follow their chain of command when asking for help with their medical evaluation paperwork, or when they spot mold, mice or other problems in their quarters.
They were also told they would be moving out of Building 18 to Building 14 within the next couple of weeks. Building 14 is a barracks that houses the administrative offices for the Medical Hold Unit and was renovated in 2006. It’s also located on the Walter Reed Campus, where reporters must be escorted by public affairs personnel. Building 18 is located just off campus and is easy to access.
Wow. Use the chain-of-command to help you fix problems. Novel Idea! I'm glad no one ever thought of THAT before. I think the reson for so much despair, and all the trouble at WRAMC is because these stupid cripples were too dumb to just ask their chain of command for help. [/sarcasm] I believe the chian-of-fellow-wounded-placed-in-the-chain-of-command was a big problem before, if that getting fixed?
Glad they're moving them out of building 18 into 14, but it begs the question, why wasn't this done before? If it was renovated in 2006, it must've been available... oh wait, I see it was used for administrative offices. What was I saying just recently about bureaucracy being the problem?
The soldiers said they were also told their first sergeant has been relieved of duty, and that all of their platoon sergeants have been moved to other positions at Walter Reed. And 120 permanent-duty soldiers are expected to arrive by mid-March to take control of the Medical Hold Unit, the soldiers said
As of Tuesday afternoon, Army public affairs did not respond to a request sent Sunday evening to verify the personnel changes.
Great. I'm glad they shitcanned the 1SG. But I see they "moved" the platoon sergeants elsewhere. Good. Now they can be derelict in their duties elsewhere. Hopefully, "elsewhere" won't be somewhere that their incompetence will have an impact on soldiers. The commander needs his ass in a permanent sling too, but they aren't the ones who allocate buildings on post, nor are they the ones responsible for conducting the maintenance on the buildings. Who was, and when will they be offered up as a sacrifice? Sorry it took action and interest from congress and the White House to get the med hold staffed with enough permanent duty soldiers to run the med hold. Will the department of defense (or department of the Army) actually give anyone in a green suit (okay, a pixellated green-gray suit) the ability to send lazy/incompetent civilians packing, or give them the requisite authority, budget, and priority to fix the problems?
The Pentagon also clamped down on media coverage of any and all Defense Department medical facilities, to include suspending planned projects by CNN and the Discovery Channel, saying in an e-mail to spokespeople: “It will be in most cases not appropriate to engage the media while this review takes place,” referring to an investigation of the problems at Walter Reed.Good. We know the problems exist. Now get the "watchers" and their cameras, tape recorders, and agendas out of the way and let the "Doers" get to work fixing the problems. Come back in six months and see what's changed. It's prettymuch impossible to get anything done with someone looking over your shoulder, second guessing your decisions (like I am doing right now.) Let volunteers come in and help fix the problems, if you can place a dependable volunteer in for an undependable bureaucrat, then give the volunteer 1/2 of the bureacrat's salary and put the rest into the "Fix it!" kitty. We don't need cameras and reporters crawling all over WRAMC
If the soldiers still want to talk/grip/bitch, they can walk right off post and see any reporter they want to. Or, if they contact me (if any of you volunteer tryes pass along my email, that'd be great) I'll be happy to talk to them and help any way I can.