President Bush visited Walter Reed Army Medical Center today. He held babies, laughed with vets and handed out Purple Hearts. Then he got down to business. Though the scandal over poor conditions and red tape at Walter Reed no longer leads the headlines, Bush assured the wounded at Walter Reed that he hadn't forgotten them.
"The system failed you and it failed our troops, and we're going to fix it," he said. "I've taken important steps to achieve the objective."
One of the first steps is bringing on Brig. Gen. Michael S. Tucker as the new deputy commanding general of Walter Reed. Bush noted that Tucker has a reputation as a "bureaucracy buster."
From there, the steps follow a less linear path. Bush said he has formed three "working groups" to "address problems that may exist or may arise" at Walter Reed. Group one is a Pentagon panel that has been created to "examine the conditions at Walter Reed and Bethesda." Group two is led by Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson, with the goal of identifying "potential gaps in the services our wounded troops receive as they return from the battlefield." Group three is "a bipartisan presidential commission" chaired by Bob Dole and Donna Shalala, which "will conduct a comprehensive review of the entire system for providing physical and emotional care to service men and women injured in this war."
But wait, there's more. According to the Air Force Times, both the Army and the Navy have groups looking into the treatment of wounded veterans.
At least five different panels. Five different reports. One surefire plan to bust the bureaucracy.