THE BLOG
06/22/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Diversion of Wounded From Walter Reed to Less Capable Hospitals Ordered

The Department of Defense (DoD) is denying our troops the best medical treatment.

"From: Perry, Cyndi I Ms CIV USA MEDCOM HQ
Sent: Thursday, April 01, 2010 5:47 PM
To: ...
Subject: FW: WTU Patient load in the NCA (UNCLASSIFIED)

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: FOUO

Consultants,

The attached adheres to guidance from the MEDCOM Chief of Staff and the TSG. With the approaching BRAC transformations in the National Capitol Area it is crucial to decrease the flow of wounded Soldiers to WRAMC and Ft Belvoir in preparation for new facilities being constructed.

Barracks space on the Bethesda campus will be significantly less than
presently at WRAMC. Similar space on Ft Belvoir will eventually increase but is still in construction and staffing for an increased number WTs is still in the planning stage until space actually exists.

It is crucial to direct Wounded Warrior flow arriving from the DWMMC at Landstuhl to MTFs outside the NCA. Today there are 569 Wounded Warriors at WRAMC. This number needs to decrease in a controlled fashion to about half over the next months. MTFs in other Regions need to gradually increase their populations wherever and whenever they have the clinical capability.

One risk to this mission is for receiving physicians to accept Soldiers who could be well-served elsewhere. Please re-enforce this message and pass it to your physicians, particularly those in the NCA and those at sites which are now receiving an increased WT flow.

VR/
Neil Maher ."

The Base Realignment And Closure (BRAC) is now causing DoD planners to deprive wounded military personal and indeed the entire military family of the very best medical care. The above quote confirms that the Department of Defense (DoD) directed that wounded soldiers be routed away from Walter Reed, the only world-class institution of its kind in the world. By DoD admission, the the New Walter Reed National Military Medical Center will not be world class.

What is the immediate impact of BRAC Compliance?

-- Our wounded and injured will be sent from the war zones to the "next best" facility

-- Concentrated surgical expertise found at Walter Reed is compromised

-- Concentrated rehabilitation expertise is compromised

2010-04-23-100406A0846W082AfghanTroop.jpg
DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Gary A. Witte, U.S. Army. (Released)

The military is facing the largest offensive of the Afghanistan war. And DoD is blithely cutting back on military medical expertise and capability to meet BRAC timetables. A high ranking military medical source unwilling to be officially quoted, stated that if the US conducted a major offensive, the Army in particular and all the military in general, would have no choice but to further overextend medical capabilities through a surge with reduced care. What is going on?

Inconceivably, Bethesda Navy facility will close approximately half of its operating rooms this September for a long awaited renovation. The Navy facility's 19 operating rooms will be reduced to seven for one year to meet BRAC requirements. Walter Reed will close its 16 modern state-of-the-art operating rooms in August 2011 and the Navy will follow by closing their remaining operating rooms to remodel them. The result is fewer operating rooms due to incompetent planning and implementation of BRAC construction.

The New Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) at Bethesda is now officially a catastrophe. DoD refuses to request extension of the BRAC mandated closure of Walter Reed even though Congress urges them to do so. Perhaps the reason is the possible highlighting of the massive, well over one and a half BILLION dollar cost overrun. The Navy retained the authority for the Bethesda WRNMMC project. Perhaps recognizing the failed Navy roll, the Joint Chiefs reportedly assigned BOTH the responsibility and the authority for the New Walter Reed to the Joint Task Force, a long overdue step.

In an "all hands on deck" effort, the Navy is not addressing the major decrease in medical care for our wounded but rather attempting to convince the Joint Chiefs to return authority for the New Walter Reed to the Navy and to retain the base as a navy run facility. The massively over tasked and over extended DoD and JCS appear unable or unwilling to address this catastrophe directly. The result will be degraded medical treatment for our wounded. The Obama Administration and/or the Congress must step in to obtain relief from BRAC in the capital region, at least until the Afghanistan fighting begins to wind down and our casualty rates decrease. The Obama Administration and Congress own this issue now.

Where are the Veterans Service Organizations?