Monday, March 05, 2007

Joe Galloway on Walter Reed

While in Riyadh and up on the Kuwait border as a reporter during the Gulf War, I and Joe Galloway hung out a lot. We had both spent years [myself one and a half] in Vietnam and I was friends with the American Ambassador, Chaz Freeman, and was able to get hooch and other amenities from the diplomats. Also, Adel Al-Jubair who was recently named Saudi Ambassador to the USA had been the official who expedited my visa [no oil reporters were wanted by the Saudi Ministry of Information to cover this oil war] was in Riyadh and also got me [and by extension Joe G.] some perks that helped us do our jobs more thoroughly. Joe and I swapped lies and created "another dead soldier" during the long evenings waiting for the air raid shelter sirens meaning that Saddam was sending more missiles toward Riyadh. Joe knew Stormin'
Norman Schwartzkopf in Vietnam when NS was a captain/major and told stories of NS personally running through minefields to retrieve his own wounded soldiers.

I concur with Joe that the Walter Reed fiasco is unforgiveable, but as a former US Govt employee, I am too familiar with the SNAFU culture of the FUBAR green machine and other armed forces under USG care and maintenance. Even the State Dept messes up predictably, but the Armed Forces tops the pyramid of ingrown bureaucratic incompetence and unaccountable arrogance.

I watched Bob Woodruff's interview with VA Chief James Nicholson with awe at JN's refusal to admit the shortcomings of the VA system, which routinely screws up paperwork and treatment follow-up for brain-injured veterans. The VA hospital system is another legacy of Rumsfeld, who famously rejected a US veterans pension benefit increase, a promise made during the 2000 election campaign by his boss, GWB. So the continual and never-ending neglect of wounded veterans persists, and the culture of the Pentagon is just fine with shortfalls and serial incompetence up and down the bureaucratic ladder concerning the care of those who gave the most in sacrificing themselves for our country.

The entire government of the US should be ashamed of itself, and James Nicholson should either be empowered to straighten out his VA system or sent packing.

Perhaps Schwartzkopf should be put in charge, or someone with political heft and authority.

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