Medical Center Review Group Holds First Meeting at Pentagon
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 1, 2007 The independent review group that will assess outpatient treatment at Walter Reed Army Medical Center here, and at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., held its first meeting at the Pentagon today.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates established the group after a Washington Post series threw light on the conditions that servicemembers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan were living in during their recovery at Walter Reed.
Former Veterans Affairs Secretary and Army Secretary Togo West will co-chair the group with former Army Secretary John O. Marsh. Its findings are due within 45 days. The independent group has been tasked to “review, report upon and provide recommendations regarding any critical shortcomings and opportunities to improve rehabilitative care, administrative processes and the quality of life of patients,” a Defense Department statement said.
The other members of the group are: former U.S. Rep. Dr. Joe Schwartz of Michigan; former U.S. Rep. Jim Bacchus of Florida; Arnold Fisher, senior partner of Fisher Brothers New York and chairman of the board for the Intrepid Museum Foundation; Retired Gen. John Jumper, former Air Force chief of staff; Retired Lt. Gen. Chip Roadman, former Air Force surgeon general; Retired Rear Adm. Kathy Martin, former deputy Navy surgeon general; and Retired Army Command Sgt. Maj. Larry Holland, formerly with the office of the assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs.
Special medical and mental health experts will work with the group. Gates has promised free and unrestricted access to all facilities and personnel.
“Our overarching goal is to identify any critical shortcomings and opportunities to improve the rehabilitative care, administrative processes and quality of life for injured and sick members of the armed forces at (Walter Reed and Bethesda), and make recommendations for corrective actions," said Dr. William Winkenwerder Jr., assistant secretary of defense for health affairs.
Army officials said they have already begun corrective measures at the Walter Reed facility. Earlier today, Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey relieved Maj. Gen. George Weightman of his duties as commander of Walter Reed.