Abandoning Patients at Walter Reed
Walter Reed Army Medical Center is a disaster. That's not a surprise. A party that doesn’t believe in government outsourced responsibility for health care to private contractors and dismantled the “crown jewel” of the Veterans Administration. Now, people who served their country overseas are getting sub-par care at home.
Disdain for Government > Walter Reed
The failures at Walter Reed show what happens when people who don’t believe in government are put in charge of government. Walter Reed has cared for the military’s wounded and sick, as well as high-ranking political figures, since 1909. It was once considered the “crown jewel” of the military health care system But. after five years of continuous war, the once proud hospital became a nightmarish place. Walter Reed has failed men and women coming home from Iraq.
In February 2007, The Washington Post reported holes in the ceilings, infestations of rats, mouse droppings, cockroaches and mold. Water, heat and air conditioning were inconsistent. Almost 700 soldiers had been released from hospital beds while still needing treatment. Three-quarters of the troops polled by Walter Reed last March said their experience was “stressful.”
Conservative disdain for government led to the failures at Walter Reed. Army Secretary Francis Harvey passed the buck, echoing the excuses of former FEMA director Michael Browne, “If we would have known about this, we would have fixed it. Unfortunately, we didn’t know about it.”
Free Market Fundamentalism > Walter Reed
While conservatives are quick to blame excessive bureaucracy for the problems at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, these claims are actually indicative of national leadership that scorns public provision and insists on the privatization of government operations. Before the beginning of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, before the privatization, Walter Reed was an advanced and well-kept facility.
National leadership privatized the upkeep and operations of Walter Reed to IAP Worldwide, a business management company that promised more efficient administration. What they gave us was a shame to the nation.
IAP Worldwide Services’ political action committee is a key contributor to conservatives in office. From 2005-2006, IAP Worldwide PAC have given 100 percent of their political contributions to Republicans. IAP is controlled by the giant hedge fund Cerberus Capital Management, a financial colossus that gave $45,000 to the conservative Future Leaders PAC and $15,000 from 2003-2004 to Americans for a Republican Majority, led by Tom DeLay, R-Texas. In addition, Cerberus Capital Management has spent over $1.5 million in lobbying since 2002.
Political giving and contract appointments have led to another Hurricane Katrina, this time in the medical care of our wounded solders. With President Bush’s troop surge into Iraq and Afghanistan, there will certainly be a surge of soldiers relying on care at Walter Reed. It is imperative that the country provide better services for these brave men and women and give them back the security that they will be properly taken care of when they return home.
Even with wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to make the world “safer,” the people who have served their country overseas cannot get good reliable medical care at home. The failures at Walter Reed are a compelling exposure of how conservative ideology even takes away the security of those fighting to make the United States a safer and more secure place.
Almost 700 soldiers have been released from hospital beds but still need treatment or are fighting bureaucratic complications with paperwork.
Seventy-five percent of the troops polled by Walter Reed last March said their experience was “stressful.” They suffered holes in the ceilings, a dilapidated hotel for housing soldiers’ families, infestation of rats, mice, and cockroaches, mold, and water and heat inconsistencies.
How Conservatism Caused This Failure...
Walter Reed Army Medical Center was the jewel of the military health care system. But that's government-run health care—so conservatives couldn't count it as a good thing until it was privatized. The results were disastrous. read more »
Conservatives call it a "free market" even when the contracts are no-bid and there's no market accountability. What could be a better example of the absurdity of that ideology than the rotting of Walter Reed following the privatization of its management? read more »
Today's military—recruited from America's most economically vulnerable populations—are honored the day they're sent off as cannon fodder for the neocons' cowboy adventures, and treated as disposable Americans once they come home. Who cares, as long the important ideological points get made? read more »
Conservatives are great at moralizing about their supposed superior patriotism. But where's the patriotism when it comes to taking care of our wounded warriors? read more »
Could a scandal like Walter Reed have gotten off the ground without the climate of unaccountability ushered in by the conservative cult of deregulation? read more »
Want to see why a company that couldn't do the job won the contract to manage Water Reed? Follow the money. read more »