By mid July of 2003 Walter Reed had 250 patients in a 200 bed hospital and casualties arriving from Andrews AFB
sometimes ten a night. The pace never slowed down, it only picked up. The staff was stretched thin due to
deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan to start with. The doctors and nurses were being pushed to exhaustion,
working long hours and many shifts. I never saw them vent their frustrations on a patient or family members.
Ward 57 reeked of urine, acinetobacter baumannii was flourishing, and protocal to prevent it's spread was not
Celebrities were making routine handshaking visits but the Disabled American Veterans who were there to help
the wounded soldiers file paperwork and understand their benefits were told they could no longer come.
By the next summer Landstuhl, a 150 bed hospital, took in over 500 casualties in a two day period. They were
not allowed to hire more staff. The wars were only a temporary situation was the stated reason.
The staff, the wounded and diseased patients, and their families are the ones who have
suffered from this negligence.
There is no liability in military medicine.
The following stories by
show the continued turning of blind eyes to
the problems in our military medical system.
The Pentagons Chronic Neglect of Iraq
Walter Reed on the Cheap
The Long Term Wounds of Walter Reed
Losing Their Minds
Behind the Walls of Ward 54
Insult to Injury
Sticker Shock over Shell Shock
|Soldier's mom recalls 'filthy' hospital
Walter Reed 'rundown,' outdated, she says
Saturday, March 10, 2007
By TOM LOEWY
GALESBURG - Caleb Lufkin's mother wasn't surprised
when the deplorable conditions inside the Walter Reed
Hospital Complex were exposed by a pair of reporters
from the Washington Post.
Memories of sticky floors, clogged sinks and trash cans
overflowing with wound dressings are still fresh in her
"Walter Reed was very rundown," Marcy Gorsline said.
"Everything was very old - like, circa 1950s."
Pfc. Caleb Lufkin, a member of Company B of the 5th
Engineer Battalion, 1st Engineer Brigade out of Fort
Leonard Wood, Mo., was injured in south-central
Baghdad by a roadside bomb on May 4, 2006.
The 24-year-old suffered the most serious injuries to
his left leg. Lufkin sustained shrapnel wounds and
burns to his other extremities. He was treated in Iraq
and Germany before being transferred to Walter Reed
Hospital on May 7, 2006.
Lufkin died on May 25, 2006, during surgery on his left
Gorsline arrived May 9 and stayed at the Walter Reed
Complex for three weeks. She works for OSF St. Mary
Medical Center and has been a registered nurse since
"Caleb's room was filthy," Gorsline said. "It was small
and almost never cleaned. There were wound
dressings overflowing from the trash can in Caleb's
"I remember at one point, our feet were sticking to the
floor. There were all kind of secretions on the floor. We
asked for someone to clean it and a nurse had to come
in and mop the floor."
Gorsline said a number of Caleb's surgeries were
attempts to stem infection, yet the conditions in the
hospital rooms lent themselves to problems.
"The sink was clogged and there was water standing in
the sink," Gorsline said. "Finally, someone came in to
look after it and they plunged it. Well, the stuff clogging
the sink - that black goop - just went all over. They
plunged it and left.
"Here they were trying to fight infection in Caleb's leg
and the conditions were just terrible."
Marcy's husband, Dennis Gorsline, was with his wife.
"Caleb's room was very small, and it seemed to be
out-dated," Dennis Gorsline said. "It just wasn't very
clean, I remember that. I wasn't surprised to hear about
the recent allegations."
A series of stories from Washington Post reporters
Dana Priest and Anne Hull that started Feb. 18
uncovered widespread neglect at Walter Reed Hospital.
The Gorslines did not see inside the barracks where
soldiers stayed for long-term recovery - Caleb never left
the hospital. But Marcy did see some of the conditions
in other parts of the hospital.
"Down in the cafeteria, I saw a mother feeding her son
because there weren't many people there to help," she
said. "I saw a woman with no arms who couldn't feed
Marcy Gorsline said the scope of Walter Reed's
problems did not hit her immediately.
"When I first got there, I was just overwhelmed," Marcy
said. "But by the second day there, I was starting to see
a larger problem.
"The floor was sticky, there were wound bandages in
the trash and on the floor. Poor Caleb - his air bed
deflated three times. It would happen, the alarm would
go off and he would just say 'Here we go again.' "
Gorsline said her anger has not subsided.
"On a personal note, those men and women have gone
over there for quote-unquote us - and we can't give
them the best care possible?" she said. "Men and
women are going over there whole and they come back
in pieces - mentally and physically.
"These kids - I call them all kids - deserve far, far better
than that. And the kids are still coming home, day after
day and hour after hour."
As early as July 2003 they were saying the bug
from Iraq was in the soil but evidently we weren't
the only ones not being warned about it
The Soldiers of Ward 57
Moving Forward, One Step at a Time
Monday, July 21, 2003
A fat C-141 rumbles to a halt at Andrews Air Force Base. A
gangplank is lowered from the belly of the plane, and the
Army's latest casualties from Iraq hobble or are carried to a
waiting white bus, their gear still covered with fine desert dust.
Danny Roberts is home alone in his new ground-floor rental
outside Green Bay when the three boxes arrive from Iraq,
emissaries from a distant dreamscape. Danny tears into
them, dirt and sand spilling everywhere. My stuff ! All his Army
gear, plus his CD player, the last disc he listened to still
|Soldier tells of Walter Reed problems
Saturday, March 10, 2007
By Ted Roelofs
Gazette News Service
GRAND RAPIDS -- The infamous Building 18 at
Walter Reed Army Medical Center is not far from Army
Pfc. Luke Markham's outpatient home the past few
And while the former East Kentwood High School
student has no complaints about moldy walls or
foraging mice, he believes his care after his return
from Iraq has been less than what soldiers deserve.
``There are so many soldiers coming back from Iraq.
They are just overwhelmed,'' Markham said. He was
shipped to Walter Reed, in Washington, D.C., in late
October, suffering from an eye infection and a
shoulder injury. Markham, 25, said he waited four
months for shoulder surgery, told by military officials
he would have to get in line.
In the meantime, Markham went to the emergency
room 12 times when his unstable shoulder popped
out of joint. While he waited, he was so dependent on
pain medication he had to be admitted to the hospital
when he was taken off Valium.
Markham believes the system is overburdened by
amputees, leaving other cases to languish for weeks
``If you're not an amputee, you're not much of a priority
to them,'' said Markham, who was headed back to
West Michigan today for a 30-day convalescent leave.
Markham's wife, Rebekah, 20, said she and her
husband complained for two months about the lack
of hot water in their military apartment. Last Friday,
she got a chance to take the problem up the chain of
command when Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley showed up in
the lobby of their building to take questions. Kiley is
the surgeon general of the Army and responsible for
all Army medical facilities.
``An hour after I talked to him about the problem, we
had hot water,'' she said.
Calls to the press office at Walter Reed were not
Markham's ordeal echoes reports of systemic
failures uncovered last month by The Washington
Post. Its investigation focused on shoddy outpatient
housing, including moldy walls and rotted ceilings at
a unit called Building 18, and documented cases of
soldiers who were neglected or stuck in a
The War After the War
Sunday, July 20, 2003
During World War I, the number of patient beds grew from 80
to 2,500 in a matter of months. Three generations later, the
soldiers from Operation Iraqi Freedom arrive, some so fresh
from the battlefield they still have dirt and blood beneath
Arriving at Walter Reed, feet swathed in thick bandages, he
figured he was in for some serious reconstructive surgery.
But the wounds were grievous, and infection set in.
Twelve surgeries later, John Fernandez is a double amputee.
|The Forgotten Wounded of Iraq
A Dig led by Ron Kovic 2006
I cannot help but wonder what it will be like for the
young men and women wounded in Iraq. What will
their homecoming be like? I feel close to them.
Though many years separate us we are brothers and
sisters. We have all been to the same place. For us
in 1968 it was the Bronx veterans hospital paraplegic
ward, overcrowded, understaffed, rats on the ward, a
flood of memories and images, I can never forget;
urine bags overflowing onto the floor. It seemed more
like a slum than a hospital. Paralyzed men lying in
their own excrement, pushing call buttons for aides
who never came, wondering how our government
could spend so much money (billions of dollars) on
the most lethal, technologically advanced weaponry
to kill and maim human beings but not be able to
take care of its own wounded when they came home.
Will it be the same for them? Will they have to return
to these same unspeakable conditions? Has any of it
changed? I have heard that our government has
already attempted to cut back millions in much
needed funds for veterans hospitals—and this when
thousands of wounded soldiers are returning from
Iraq. Will they too be left abandoned and forgotten by
a president and administration whose patriotic
rhetoric does not match the needs of our wounded
troops now returning?
Patient Safety in
|Wounds After The War
WBAL-TV 11 news I-Team reporter Deborah Weiner
investigated these wounds after the war.
On Nov. 10, 2006, an IED exploded in Ramadi, Iraq --
critically injuring 22-year-old Army Spec. Ryan Major,
who is just two feet away from the explosion. The
only relief his mother can experience is when she
learns he will be treated in the United States near
their Maryland home. That relief for Lorrie
Knight-Major will be short-lived. "I don't believe," said
Knight-Major. "Had I not been there? Knowing that my
son would have survived Walter Reed? I don't believe
so." Ryan's days include grueling physical therapy
as he begins a life without legs. While his right leg
was lost in the blast, his severely injured left leg was
amputated six days after he arrived at Walter Reed. "I
can not say with absolute certainty that the leg would
have been saved," Knight-Major said. "But with
absolute certainty, I can say that my son received
substandard care. And because of the substandard
care, it necessitated his leg being amputated."
What happened to Ryan at Walter Reed Army Medical
Center? During his six week stay, we primarily know
from Lorrie's detailed account," Weiner reported.
"Because not only is she his mother who held a
constant vigil, she is a nurse who has worked in
critical care in two Baltimore hospitals and managed
a long term medical unit with patients on ventilators."
|The War, Seen from Ward 57
Goff told the resident doctors to force a patient who didn't
want to learn to dress his wound. He sighed as he thought
about the day the soldier would learn that all the surgeries
couldn't save his right leg.
|At US Military Hospitals 'Everybody' is Overworked
Too many patients are demanding too many services from a
medical facility with too few doctors and too little space.
Military families complain they can't get in to see a doctor. The
hospital's top commander points to a lack of money and staff
to meet basic needs. And everyone involved agonizes about
whether the problems can be fixed any time soon.
|Military Stifles Web-based Health Records
Two Defense Department medical agencies have attempted
to stall the deployment of a popular Internet-based health
records system in favor of pursuing their own systems
costing hundreds of times as much, according to
congressional sources and documents furnished to
Defense's Military Health System and the Army Medical
Department have tried to keep Army clinicians in Iraq and
health officials at the Veterans Affairs Department in the
United States from using the Joint Patient Tracking
Application system and the Web-based Veterans Tracking
Application system. The two systems provide doctors and
other clinicians with real-time access to a soldiers' electronic
health records, from the moment a clinician at a combat
hospital enters health information on a wounded soldier until
the soldier is released from care in the United States.
No such combination of systems existed before, which was
one of the primary reasons the Army was criticized this year
for the poor medical care it provided soldiers at Army
hospitals. The most prominent case involved failures at
Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where lost documents left
soldiers waiting for weeks to receive medical attention.
Friendly Medical Malpractice
"Friendly fire" is what happens when a solider is accidentally
shot by one of his own comrades.
But what are the ethical considerations for what I call "friendly
medical malpractice," where military doctors make potentially
fatal decisions and fail to disclose their mistakes to a dying
soldier’s family in a timely manner?
It doesn’t make sense, morally or medically. But massive
wounds suffered in war sure provide a handy way to cover up
|Bond of Wounded Warriors Crosses Generations
My lack of sleep and long schedule gets put into
perspective as I see why I train. It's hard to
grumble when you see a man with extensive
injuries battle pain and infection and endure
multiple surgeries without complaint.
Many people are unaware that we are taking care
of wounded soldiers here at Brooke Army Medical
Center. More than 2,400 wounded, burned and
injured servicemen and women have been treated
here since the global war on terrorism started. For
some of them the battle is far from over; they face
life-threatening infections from bacteria
indigenous to Iraq as well as the burns and
trauma they have suffered.
|Trauma Care May be Killing Soldiers 2006
American military doctors in Iraq have injected more
than 1,000 wounded troops with a potent and largely
experimental blood-coagulating drug despite
mounting medical evidence linking it to deadly blood
clots that lodge in the lungs, heart and brain.
|Military Medical Breached
Unencrypted Data Sent Via Internet
By Ellen Nakashima and Renae Merle
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, July 21, 2007; Page D01
A government contractor handling sensitive health
information for 867,000 U.S. service members and
their families acknowledged yesterday that some
of its employees sent unencrypted data -- such as
medical appointments, treatments and diagnoses
-- across the Internet.
|Palo Alto and Walter Reed
He said he refused to sign papers to leave the
Army "until they put me back together" and was
sent to a military rehabilitation center for the
blind in Palo Alto. "What a disaster that turned
out to be."
Ongoing Problems at Walter Reed
By Matt Renner
t r u t h o u t | Interview
Tuesday 15 January 2008
"Nothing has changed [at Walter Reed]. Same facility. None
of the recommendations that I made have been
implemented and to my knowledge they really aren't working
Former Army Lt. and military nurse Doug Connor sat down
for an interview with Truthout reporter Geoffrey Millard to
share his experience before and after the Walter Reed
Medical Center scandal broke.
Encouraged by the firings of top military officials as a result of
the problems at Walter Reed, Connor spoke out about the
dilapidated conditions at Walter Reed. He sent a letter to
Gen. Gregory A. Schumacher with recommendations for
improving conditions in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) where
there were equipment shortages and outbreaks of infectious
bacteria, including extremely dangerous drug-resistant forms
of Acinetobacter baumannii, a bacterium that has been
ravaging injured soldiers in Iraq and in domestic military
The infection problems caused other units within the hospital
to lose faith in the ICU's ability to care for surgical patients.
Because of the infections, "the kidney transplant team will not
recover their patients in the surgical ICU anymore," Connor
said in the interview.
Wounded Vets Trade One Hell
By Aaron Glantz
SAN FRANCISCO, California, Jan 15 (IPS) - Last year,
the United States woke up to the reality of hundreds of
thousands of soldiers wounded in Iraq and
Afghanistan -- and began to grapple with what to do
On Feb. 18, 2007, a headline titled "Soldiers Face
Neglect, Frustration at Army's Top Medical Facility"
splashed across the front page of one of the nation's
premier newspapers, the Washington Post. The
article, which described unsafe conditions and
substandard care at Walter Reed Army Medical
Centre, began with the story of Army Specialist Jeremy
Duncan, who was airlifted out of Iraq in February 2006
with a broken neck and a shredded left ear, "nearly
dead from blood loss".
"Behind the door of Army Spec. Jeremy Duncan's
room, part of the wall is torn and hangs in the air,
weighted down with black mold," the article read.
"When the wounded combat engineer stands in his
shower and looks up, he can see the bathtub on the
floor above through a rotted hole. The entire building,
constructed between the world wars, often smells like
greasy carry-out. Signs of neglect are everywhere:
mouse droppings, belly-up cockroaches, stained
carpets, cheap mattresses."