October 21, 2003
The Honorable Donald H. Rumsfeld
Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1000
Dear Secretary Rumsfeld:
I am greatly concerned about reports of poor living-conditions and back-logged medical care for military personnel at Fort Stewart, Georgia. While I am heartened by reports today that additional medical personnel will soon be assigned to care for the reservists waiting for treatment at Fort Stewart, I am worried that these delays would arise in the first place.
According to reports by CNN, UPI, and the New York Times, more than 600 sick and wounded veterans of the U.S. war in Iraq are waiting for medical care at Fort Stewart, Georgia. While they wait, they are being held in training barracks that lack basic accommodations. The UPI reporter who broke this story claims to have seen a document indicating that there are no available doctor's appointments until November 11, 2003.
§ What specific actions are being taken to remedy this situation? § How did this back-log happen in the first place? § What changes are being instituted to make sure this doesn't happen again? § Does this indicate that the capacity of DOD hospitals is over-burdened with casualties from Iraq?
The men and women of the American military deserve our highest respect. They have kept their commitment to this country in the face of enemy fire. We owe them the same loyalty when they return home and need our care. The failure to meet this obligation for the men and women at Fort Stewart raises serious concerns about the current stewardship of the American military.
Please give your personal attention to this issue of basic welfare for our troops. I look forward to you reply.
John F. Kerry