Mission unaccomplished

A new report says the Bush administration is still failing injured soldiers.


Tim Grieve
September 26, 2007 6:58PM (UTC)

When the national media focused earlier this year on problems with the medical care provided to injured U.S. soldiers, George W. Bush made his way to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and promised that things were going to change. "It is not right to have someone volunteer to wear our uniform and not get the best possible care," the president said in March. "We're going to fix the problem ... We're not going to be satisfied until everybody gets the kind of care that their folks and families expect."

So, how's it going?

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The Government Accountability Office is out with a report on the issue this morning, and the grades it's giving aren't particularly encouraging. The GAO says that nearly half of all returning soldiers aren't getting personalized care that the Army said it would provide in the wake of revelations about Walter Reed; that the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs still don't have a good system for sharing soldiers' medical records; and that the government has, in the words of the Associated Press, "no apparent solution" for reducing delays -- they average 177 days -- in providing disability payments to wounded soldiers.

"Delayed decisions, confusing policies and the perception that DoD and VA disability ratings result in inequitable outcomes have eroded the credibility of the system," GAO investigators say in their report. "It is imperative that DoD and VA take prompt steps to address fundamental system weaknesses."

Those would be the same steps, we'd think, that the president said his administration would be taking six months ago.


Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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