Saturday, February 17, 2007

Page A1 News in the Sunday edition of the Washington Post

Tomorrow, Washington Post readers will be offered a stinging rebuke of the military's treatment of wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Hospital. The story was written by Dana Priest and Anne Hull who gathered information without the knowledge or permission of Walter Reed officials.

The story is long and includes the inevitable: "Life in Building 18 is the bleakest homecoming for men and women whose government promised them good care in return for their sacrifices."

Well, I have a few thoughts on the subject:

When our son was deployed, our biggest fear was not that he would be killed, but that he would be gravely wounded. We had heard, going into 2004, that National Guard troops were not treated, medically, as well as regular Army. We were certainly not aware that "the government promised [him] good care in return for [his] sacrifices." We expected the worst. By the grace of God, despite being wounded in the face with grenade shrapnel and serving a year as a prison guard, he came back physically and emotionally healthy.

I feel badly for the soldiers and their families who are described in the Post's story. The Army, being an organization run by humans, is far from perfect. And I hope that progress is being made in the conditions that were described. One of the reported incidents dates back to when Paul Wolfowitz was Deputy Secretary of Defense.

But here is what really gets to me: the Post comes through with another holier-than-thou story about the treatment of soldiers by the military. Yet, the treatment of one of its own war reporters has been less than stellar. Who holds the Post accountable when one of its reporters is damaged while working for them and then apparently casts her off? Where is the compassion and concern? Where is the expose'?

In the end, all these people - the soldiers and reporters - deserve the best treatment possible by their employers. War is Hell and mistakes are made. The Washington Post is able to use page A1 to showcase the mistakes of the military. Unfortunately, there is no such showcase to illuminate the mistakes of the Post. The military is under constant pressure to improve - although we know that progress can be painfully slow. I wonder if anything will ever cause the Washington Post to look within and see that it can be guilty of the same types of abuses of which it accuses others.

Update: Knowing that this major piece was coming in the Washington Post, Maj. Gen. George W. Weightman, commanding general of Walter Reed Army Medical Center responds. BTW, the Post's story is getting major play across America this morning.

I wouldn't be surprised if this is the new meme:

"We really, really support the troops. We said it in our resolution. You (the administration) obviously hate them as you treat them like crap. We just want our beloved soldiers to come home."

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