More on Walter Reed

The Washington Post's series on the poor conditions for hospitalized Iraq war veterans explores a subject very familiar to Salon readers.

Published February 20, 2007 11:17PM (EST)

Kudos to the Washington Post's Dana Priest and Anne Hull, who exposed the mistreatment of wounded Iraq war veterans at Walter Reed Army Medical Center over the weekend. But exactly two years to the day before their first story appeared in the Post, Salon's Mark Benjamin wrote a searing exposé of the way the hospital treated wounded vets, especially those with psychological injuries. For months Benjamin tracked 14 soldiers suffering from severe post-traumatic stress disorder at Walter Reed and a pattern of inadequate treatment, even neglect, that may have resulted in several suicides and suicide attempts. His reporting on one sad angle to the story -- that veterans treated as outpatients were being billed for their meals at the hospital -- resulted in the Army's reversing that policy.

In a follow-up article published in January 2006, Benjamin exposed a shocking pattern of how the hospital has failed to identify and treat traumatic brain injuries, leaving patients to linger with untold suffering. (Incidentally, that article included the sad travails at the hospital of Spc. Wendell McLeod Jr. and his wife, Annette McLeod. They were heavily featured in Priest's Feb. 19 article and a photograph of the couple ran above the fold on the front page of the Post.)

Not to take away from Priest and Hull's follow-up reporting on Walter Reed -- there's plenty of work to be done on the way this administration has shortchanged veterans -- but it was hard to read the coverage of the Post's series without pausing to praise Mark Benjamin's fine early work on the same topic.

By Joan Walsh

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