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Bush: System Failed at Walter Reed While Medical Care Remained Top Notch

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 30, 2007 – President Bush assured the medical staff at Walter Reed Army Medical Center today he recognizes that problems at the facility reflected a failed bureaucracy, not the care they were providing.

Bush, on his first visit to Walter Reed since news of its problems was revealed, thanked the staff for the extraordinary care they provide military men and women.

“Every time I come to Walter Reed, I'm also impressed by the caregivers: the docs, the nurses, the people who spend many hours trying to heal those who have been wounded in service to our country,” he said. “The soldiers and Marines stay here only for a few months, but the compassion they receive here stays with them for a lifetime.”

Bush said he knows the work these medical professionals do is often behind the scenes, and they don’t get a lot of glory for it.

“But you certainly do from the family members who first come here and they see their loved one on a bed, wondering whether or not that person will ever walk again, and then, six months later, the body is returning, and the spirit is strong, the person's up and moving around,” he told them. “The family and the soldier (are) impressed by that care.”

Americans need to understand that the problems at Walter Reed aren’t about medical care, the president said. “The quality of care at this fantastic facility is great, and it needs to remain that way,” he said.

He cited independent analysts who have given the facility high marks for its medical care, and reaffirmed that assessment during a recent surprise inspection.

“In other words, this isn't my assessment; nor is it the assessment of people I have talked to, the families, although that's what they believe,” the president said. “It is also the assessment of a joint commission which accredits thousands of American hospitals. And this commission has given Walter Reed the highest possible rating, a gold seal of approval.”

Bush thanked the staff for keeping the quality of care at Walter Reed top-notch, and vowed to ensure other aspects of the facility come up to the same standard.

“The problems at Walter Reed were caused by bureaucratic and administrative failures,” he said. “The system failed you and it failed our troops, and we're going to fix it.”

The country owes its wounded troops the best, and it’s evident that Walter Reed’s medical staff feels the same way, the president said.

“People here recognize (that) each human being here matters, each person counts, and each person has endless possibilities, even though they may have received terrible wounds on the battlefield,” he said.

Serving the people who serve the country is a special calling, the president said.

“It requires a unique person to come here on a daily basis and to heal the hurts of those who have served our country,” he said. “And so our nation is grateful and I am proud to be your commander in chief.”

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Transcript of President Bush's Speech


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