Joe Reilly (jreilly4261) wrote in just_washington,
Joe Reilly

Bring Troops Home From Walter Reed

Please consider reading the following and supporting it in any way you can.  
The following letter to Governor Christine Gregoire (WA-D) is in response to an idea put out on Air America Radio's Randi Rhodes Show by a Kathleen in Seattle.  Please consider contacting your Governor to make a similar plea.  I've included contact information for Washington state below.
Randi Rhodes on Air America can be located on your dial in Washington state at:
Seattle, WA
1090 KPTK-AM
Now on from 5-8pm PT

Spokane, WA
1280 KPTQ-AM
Now live from 12-3pm ET


Write Governor Gregoire a Letter:
Governor Chris Gregoire
Office of the Governor
PO Box 40002
Olympia, WA 98504-0002

Give Governor Gregoire's Office a Call:
Governor's Office (360) 902-4111
For relay operators for the deaf or hearing impaired, please dial 7-1-1

Fax Governor Gregoire a Letter:
(360) 753-4110

Email Governor Gregoire via her web form:



Governor Gregoire,


I'm certain that, by now, you've taken note of the conditions at Walter Reed Medical Center, the host of recently returned wounded troops, as revealed by the Washington Post earlier this week.  The facility is so overcrowded that our service men and women with wounds including amputations and brain injuries are being housed in unacceptable, dilapidated dormitories with mold, rodents, cockroaches, and holes in the ceilings.


Please ask President Bush to transfer custody of Washington troops back home where they can receive adequate medical and psychosocial care in our private beneficent, public, and Veterans Administration hospitals.  Our returning troops are best served by receiving personal and timely medical care, regular personal contact with their families and friends, and a gracious welcome from their local communities.


Our communities need these troops to come home so that we have the opportunity to express our gratitude.  It is difficult for us to personally feel the impact of the sacrifices made by these soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines who were sent into harm's way at our behest when they are housed in isolation on the other side of the continent.  It is difficult for us to reach out and volunteer help to our neighbors who are so far away.  It is difficult for us to sacrifice our time and service in aid of our military members when they are not here to ask for our sacrifice.


Please find a way to bring our wounded troops home, for their benefit and ours.


Washington Post-"The Other Walter Reed"


The first part of the article opened as follows. The entire lengthy pieces are posted at

Behind the door of Army Spec. Jeremy Duncan's room, part of the wall is torn and hangs in the air, weighted down with black mold. When the wounded combat engineer stands in his shower and looks up, he can see the bathtub on the floor above through a rotted hole. The entire building, constructed between the world wars, often smells like greasy carry-out. Signs of neglect are everywhere: mouse droppings, belly-up cockroaches, stained carpets, cheap mattresses.

This is the world of Building 18, not the kind of place where Duncan expected to recover when he was evacuated to Walter Reed Army Medical Center from Iraq last February with a broken neck and a shredded left ear, nearly dead from blood loss. But the old lodge, just outside the gates of the hospital and five miles up the road from the White House, has housed hundreds of maimed soldiers recuperating from injuries suffered in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The common perception of Walter Reed is of a surgical hospital that shines as the crown jewel of military medicine. But 5 1/2 years of sustained combat have transformed the venerable 113-acre institution into something else entirely -- a holding ground for physically and psychologically damaged outpatients. Almost 700 of them -- the majority soldiers, with some Marines -- have been released from hospital beds but still need treatment or are awaiting bureaucratic decisions before being discharged or returned to active duty.

They suffer from brain injuries, severed arms and legs, organ and back damage, and various degrees of post-traumatic stress. Their legions have grown so exponentially -- they outnumber hospital patients at Walter Reed 17 to 1 -- that they take up every available bed on post and spill into dozens of nearby hotels and apartments leased by the Army. The average stay is 10 months, but some have been stuck there for as long as two years.

Not all of the quarters are as bleak as Duncan's, but the despair of Building 18 symbolizes a larger problem in Walter Reed's treatment of the wounded, according to dozens of soldiers, family members, veterans aid groups, and current and former Walter Reed staff members interviewed by two Washington Post reporters, who spent more than four months visiting the outpatient world without the knowledge or permission of Walter Reed officials. Many agreed to be quoted by name; others said they feared Army retribution if they complained publicly.

While the hospital is a place of scrubbed-down order and daily miracles, with medical advances saving more soldiers than ever, the outpatients in the Other Walter Reed encounter a messy bureaucratic battlefield nearly as chaotic as the real battlefields they faced overseas.

On the worst days, soldiers say they feel like they are living a chapter of "Catch-22." The wounded manage other wounded. Soldiers dealing with psychological disorders of their own have been put in charge of others at risk of suicide.

Disengaged clerks, unqualified platoon sergeants and overworked case managers fumble with simple needs: feeding soldiers' families who are close to poverty, replacing a uniform ripped off by medics in the desert sand or helping a brain-damaged soldier remember his next appointment.

"We've done our duty. We fought the war. We came home wounded. Fine. But whoever the people are back here who are supposed to give us the easy transition should be doing it," said Marine Sgt. Ryan Groves, 26, an amputee who lived at Walter Reed for 16 months. "We don't know what to do. The people who are supposed to know don't have the answers. It's a nonstop process of stalling."

Soldiers, family members, volunteers and caregivers who have tried to fix the system say each mishap seems trivial by itself, but the cumulative effect wears down the spirits of the wounded and can stall their recovery.

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