Gen. George Weightman, Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley Expected to Appear at Walter Reed Field Hearing

March 2, 2007
Blog
Just out from the Army Times:

Ex-Walter Reed chief to face Congress Monday

Rick Maze, Army Times - March 2, 2007

The Walter Reed Army Medical Center scandal involving the living conditions, medical treatment and retirement process of wounded combat veterans will be the subject of five congressional hearings next week, including one on Monday that is expected to include testimony from the hospital commander who was relieved Thursday.

Army Maj. Gen. George Weightman, who since August had been the hospital commander and also head of the North Atlantic Regional Medical Command, is one of the witnesses scheduled to appear Monday before the House subcommittee as it holds a hearing in the Walter Reed auditorium.

The House Oversight and Government Reform national security subcommittee, long known for its investigative hearings into defense-related matters, has scheduled a first panel of witnesses that includes Army Staff Sgt. John Daniel Shannon, a 43-year-old wounded soldier, and Annette McLeod, the wife of Army Cpl. Wendell McLeod, another wounded soldier. Both have been quoted in the media about problems at the hospital.

Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley, whom the Army has asked to step in as Walter Reed commander, also will testify. Kiley has become a lightning rod for congressional criticism because he was the Walter Reed commander from 2002 to 2004 and was responsible for the outpatient program that is now the center of attention.

The Washington Post reported on Army Staff Sgt. John Daniel Shannon's experience:

Staff Sgt. John Daniel Shannon, 43, arrived at Walter Reed in November 2004 with his eye and skull shattered by an AK-47 round, and spent several weeks in the hospital.

His odyssey in the Other Walter Reed has lasted more than two years, but it began when someone handed him a map of the grounds and told him to find his room across post.

A reconnaissance and land-navigation expert, Shannon was so disoriented that he couldn't even find north. Holding the map, he stumbled around outside the hospital, sliding against walls and trying to keep himself upright, he said. He asked anyone he found for directions.

He had appointments during his first two weeks as an outpatient, then nothing.

"I thought, 'Shouldn't they contact me?' " he said. "I didn't understand the paperwork. I'd start calling phone numbers, asking if I had appointments. I finally ran across someone who said: 'I'm your case manager. Where have you been?'

"Well, I've been here! Jeez Louise, people, I'm your hospital patient!"

Another Washington Post piece described the circumstances of Army Cpl. Wendell McLeod and his wife, Annette McLeod:

In Room 323 the alarm goes off at 5 a.m., but Cpl. Dell McLeod slumbers on while his wife, Annette, gets up. An Army counselor taught her that a soldier back from war can wake up swinging, so she approaches from behind.

"Dell," Annette says, shaking her husband. "Dell, get in the shower."

"OK, baby," he says. An American flag T-shirt is stretched over his chest. He reaches for his dog tags, still the devoted soldier of 19 years, though his life as a warrior has become a paradox. One day he's led on stage at a Toby Keith concert with dozens of other wounded Operation Iraqi Freedom troops from Mologne House, and the next he's sitting in a cluttered cubbyhole at Walter Reed, fighting the Army for every penny of his disability.

McLeod, 41, worked in textile and steel mills in rural South Carolina before deploying. Now he takes 23 pills a day, prescribed by various doctors at Walter Reed. Crowds frighten him. He is too anxious to drive. When panic strikes, a soldier friend named Oscar takes him to Baskin-Robbins for vanilla ice cream.

"They find ways to soothe each other," Annette says.

Mostly what the soldiers do together is wait: for appointments, evaluations, signatures and lost paperwork to be found. It's like another wife told Annette McLeod: "If Iraq don't kill you, Walter Reed will."

See this previous post on Gen. George Weightman and Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley.