Obama, McCaskill to Introduce Legislation That Would Improve Conditions at Active Duty Military Hospitals.
U.S. Senators Barack Obama (D-IL), a member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, and Claire McCaskill (D-MO), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today announced that they will introduce legislation that would improve the quality of care and require more frequent inspections at active duty medical hospitals when the Senate reconvenes next week. The Washington Post reported this weekend that the soldiers and facilities at Walter Reed face extreme neglect - wounded soldiers taking care of other wounded, soldiers with psychological disorders attending to suicidal soldiers, and "mouse droppings, belly-up cockroaches, stained carpets, cheap mattresses" scattered throughout.
"Caring for our returning heroes is one of the things we can still get right about this war, and that's why the deterioration of the conditions at Walter Reed is both appalling and unacceptable," said U.S. Senator Barack Obama. "The brave men and women wounded at war should receive the best we have to offer and the highest quality of care, and that's why this legislation would cut red tape, improve service, and require frequent inspections of all active duty military hospitals."
"I felt sick when I read these articles about how our injured American military men and women are being treated at Walter Reed," said U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill. "They sacrificed and fought bravely in Iraq and Afghanistan. They shouldn't have to fight a whole new war at home to receive the service and compensation they deserve."
The proposed Obama-McCaskill legislation would:
* Simplify the paperwork process for recovering soldiers.
* Improve the ratio of caseworkers to recovering soldiers.
* Increase the training of caseworkers.
* Require more frequent IG inspections of hospital facilities and standards of care.
* Establish timelines and benchmarks for repairs to substandard facilities.
* Provide recovering soldiers with psychological counseling.
* Require regular reporting to Congress on: the total number of recovering soldiers at military hospitals; the number of caseworkers; the average waiting time for treatment; and the number of suicide attempts, accidental deaths or drug overdoses.
The Washington Post reported today that the Department of Defense has now begun repairing Building 18, although no comprehensive plan to address conditions at Walter Reed and other active duty medical hospitals has been announced.