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'It Is Just Not Walter Reed' - Soldiers Share Troubling Stories Of Military Health Care Across U.S.
Washington Post ^ | March 5, 2007 | Anne Hull and Dana Priest

Posted on 03/05/2007 12:36:05 PM PST by neverdem

Ray Oliva went into the spare bedroom in his home in Kelseyville, Calif., to wrestle with his feelings. He didn't know a single soldier at Walter Reed, but he felt he knew them all. He worried about the wounded who were entering the world of military health care, which he knew all too well. His own VA hospital in Livermore was a mess. The gown he wore was torn. The wheelchairs were old and broken.

"It is just not Walter Reed," Oliva slowly tapped out on his keyboard at 4:23 in the afternoon on Friday. "The VA hospitals are not good either except for the staff who work so hard. It brings tears to my eyes when I see my brothers and sisters having to deal with these conditions. I am 70 years old, some say older than dirt but when I am with my brothers and sisters we become one and are made whole again."

Oliva is but one quaking voice in a vast outpouring of accounts filled with emotion and anger about the mistreatment of wounded outpatients at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Stories of neglect and substandard care have flooded in from soldiers, their family members, veterans, doctors and nurses working inside the system. They describe depressing living conditions for outpatients at other military bases around the country, from Fort Lewis in Washington state to Fort Dix in New Jersey. They tell stories -- their own versions, not verified -- of callous responses to combat stress and a system ill equipped to handle another generation of psychologically scarred vets.

The official reaction to the revelations at Walter Reed has been swift, and it has exposed the potential political costs of ignoring Oliva's 24.3 million comrades -- America's veterans -- many of whom are among the last standing...

(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonpost.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Front Page News; Government; US: District of Columbia
KEYWORDS: health; medicine
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The VA hospitals are not good either except for the staff who work so hard.

In general, I wouldn't doubt that. Welcome to universal health care, aka socialized medicine. Lefty WaPo, keep doing your muckraking!

1 posted on 03/05/2007 12:36:12 PM PST by neverdem
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To: neverdem

the VA being cesspools is hardly news??????????


2 posted on 03/05/2007 12:41:00 PM PST by 100-Fold_Return (Sell Low--Buy Lower)
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To: neverdem

I had neurosurgery in a military hospital and have not suffered further. That said, I WILL NOT step foot in a VA hospital if I can avoid it.


3 posted on 03/05/2007 12:42:49 PM PST by Grunthor (You must go through the valley to stand upon the mountain.)
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To: neverdem

If the muck is there, shouldn't someone rake it?


4 posted on 03/05/2007 12:43:13 PM PST by stuartcr (Everything happens as God wants it to.....otherwise, things would be different.)
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To: neverdem

The VA cannot fire a bad employee without an act of congress. It is the bottom level that collects the very worst employees.

In a less public forum, I could tell you horror stories.


5 posted on 03/05/2007 12:43:48 PM PST by dangerdoc (dangerdoc (not actually dangerous any more))
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To: neverdem

Who wants Government run health care again?

Not anyone in the military, The Air Force hospitals are not called the "Medical Hobby Shop" for nothing.


6 posted on 03/05/2007 12:47:19 PM PST by McCloud-Strife (John McCain: great American, poor Senator, Horrible Republican)
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To: 100-Fold_Return

Hardly news, I agree. But, what about the timing of this "revelation?"

Comgresscritters have been receiving complaints for decades, why the sudden interest when they have ignored it for so long?


7 posted on 03/05/2007 12:47:27 PM PST by DakotaRed
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To: neverdem

It's not just the facilities. Tricare is a frigging nightmare.


8 posted on 03/05/2007 12:47:39 PM PST by USMCWife6869 (Godspeed Sand Sharks.)
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To: neverdem

Pffft. I could have told the Washington Post that if they'd asked me.

Socialized medicine, while free, absolutely sucks.

Three years ago, I had to drive an hour and a half each way, pregnant, just for regular OB/GYN checkups because none of the local doctors (thanks, Monterey, California) would see military dependents.

I ended up paying out of pocket just to save myself the stress.


9 posted on 03/05/2007 12:47:44 PM PST by USArmySpouse
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To: All
'It Is Just Not Walter Reed'

AND, it's just NOT in the medical field. It seems to be pervavise in all areas. My sister's husband is in the Navy, and he was assigned to a small island near Italy, La Madellena. The family went with him, his wife and 4 kids. Well, when my sister got there, he was sent out on a mission, and SHE had to find housing. They managed to find a tiny apt. but they could only stay there a few months. After that, they had to find a new place - which they had to do anyway, as they had a teenage son and dtr, and 2 minor children, 1- 4 yr. old and 1- 6yr old. She sought help with the Navy housing on base, and received NO help. None. Nada! She was totally on her own- in a strange country where she did not speak the language. I think she told me that everything was to be taken care of when she got there with the kids, wellllll..... I guess this is typical. She DID manage to find a small duplex, with the help of a native who spoke English. I think this is appalling - as WE send our military and their families to other coutries. The least we could do is get them settled when they arrive. This area needs a LOT of work, as well.

10 posted on 03/05/2007 12:47:48 PM PST by jackibutterfly
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To: DakotaRed

Because it conveniently fits into the cause of

A. Making the military look bad

while at the same time

B. Making those who choose to be in the military as a bunch of hapless victims

Not that I don't think the military of this country doesn't deserve better healthcare options, because I most certainly do. However, these things never come up unless it works for the MSN agenda at the time.


11 posted on 03/05/2007 12:50:00 PM PST by USMCWife6869 (Godspeed Sand Sharks.)
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To: neverdem
Bingo.

The liberal media will make it sound like the Bush administration is at fault, but in reality under Bush's tenure the VA budget has exploded.

The problem is the design of the system!
12 posted on 03/05/2007 12:54:11 PM PST by Red6 (Come and get it.)
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To: USMCWife6869
Because it conveniently fits into the cause of

A. Making the military look bad

while at the same time

B. Making those who choose to be in the military as a bunch of hapless victims

Exactly.

13 posted on 03/05/2007 12:58:11 PM PST by D-Chivas
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To: Grunthor
That said, I WILL NOT step foot in a VA hospital if I can avoid it.

My dad, a WWII vet, said the same thing, only with out the "if I can avoid it" part. He refused to be treated in one after seeing two brothers-in-law in one.
14 posted on 03/05/2007 12:58:37 PM PST by YellowRoseofTx
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To: neverdem

Every bit of medical attention I recieved while on active duty was top notch.


15 posted on 03/05/2007 1:00:06 PM PST by Fierce Allegiance (RINO = Rudy Is Not Ours! Keep scrubbing, Rudy supporters, the blood won't come off.)
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To: neverdem

This is one of the things that makes my blood boil. Our vets should be treated and get the best treatment anyone could. I'm furious that this is what our government provides.


16 posted on 03/05/2007 1:01:28 PM PST by YellowRoseofTx
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To: USMCWife6869
You're right.

Tricare isn't that bad and the MSM does exploit these topics like now with WR and the VA. However, state managed care almost always looses sight of who the customer is. You don't equate to money when you walk into a military hospital. There is no relationship between service delivered and revenue made. There is no competition between hospitals, specialists, or insurances nor is there a real immanent threat of a law suite when there is malpractice. People still care, and many are professionals, but the profit motivation and customer focus is largely missing in these systems.
17 posted on 03/05/2007 1:02:12 PM PST by Red6 (Come and get it.)
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To: neverdem

Where was Wapo when Congress was cutting VA funding prior to our involvement in Iraq/Afghanistan? I'm in no way downplaying the existing problems... but these skunks in the DBM only have one agenda... and the vets aren't it.


18 posted on 03/05/2007 1:03:53 PM PST by johnny7 ("We took a hell of a beating." -'Vinegar Joe' Stilwell)
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To: neverdem

Maybe the soldiers would have fared better if the VA was conveted to HillaryCare.


19 posted on 03/05/2007 1:04:44 PM PST by theBuckwheat
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To: dangerdoc

I could give military hospital horror stories also on a less public forum. I had 2 major surgeries at an Air Force hospital ,after one of the surgeries my mom was shocked about conditions at the military hospital and care. But this has been going on for a long time, it was a running jock we had in the military about the hospitals. It just seems very ironic that the problems are now coming to light. This is why universal health coverage would be a very bad idea.


20 posted on 03/05/2007 1:06:31 PM PST by YoungSoutherner (To be young and conservative)
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To: neverdem

A friend of mine did her OT/PT internship at a VA Hospital in SC and she was very upset by the conditions she saw. She said what angered the most was that all of those men in that facility had given their all and for our country to pay them back by providing such shoddy care was reprehensible. I agree.


21 posted on 03/05/2007 1:07:33 PM PST by MissEdie (Liberalscostlives)
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To: neverdem

Dana Priest=traitor.


22 posted on 03/05/2007 1:09:27 PM PST by balch3
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To: neverdem

These are the people Hillary wants to take over our health care. F*** that !


23 posted on 03/05/2007 1:09:48 PM PST by Eric in the Ozarks (BTUs are my Beat.)
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To: DakotaRed
Comgresscritters have been receiving complaints for decades, why the sudden interest when they have ignored it for so long?

Dittos!! The return back to gubmint by sob stories.

When I got my medical discharge from the Navy, the doc said, "Son, I'm a weekend warrior as I was drafted, but straight from the hip:

"I know that check from Sam is needed, for they owe you a hell of a lot more than that, a lot more. But, you'll be with the VA, and Son, man to man, off the record, they'll KILL YOU, SON! Please listen."

Aug 7, 1980

24 posted on 03/05/2007 1:10:48 PM PST by 100-Fold_Return (Sell Low--Buy Lower)
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To: neverdem

Is this some kind of shocking new revelation or something? VA hospitals and base hospitals have always been a disgrace.


25 posted on 03/05/2007 1:14:15 PM PST by Doohickey (I am not unappeasable. YOU are just too easily appeased.)
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To: YoungSoutherner

I could have had free knee surgery at the VA when I seperated from the military. Based on my personal observations, I decided I would prefer limping for the rest of my life over taking my chances in a VA hospital.


26 posted on 03/05/2007 1:14:37 PM PST by dangerdoc (dangerdoc (not actually dangerous any more))
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To: neverdem

I've had recent experiences with the VA. Strangely enough, saying this as a healthcare professional, I have had nothing but excellent service and treatment. The facilities have modern, up to date equipment and overall very clean and professionally managed. My disappointment comes from the fact 75% of the staff speaks english as a second language.


27 posted on 03/05/2007 1:17:19 PM PST by politicalwit (Freedom doesn't mean a Free Pass.)
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To: USMCWife6869

There's a MUCH more useful way to approach this. Rather than allow the DOD/VA to sweep this type of concern under the rug as might be SOP....

Take the opportunity for a rare media event with OBVIOUS fallout, such as the head of Walter Reed AND the Secretary of the Army getting canned....ASAP at that.....

And apply your wits to righting some of the wrongs.

~~~~~~~~

"I'm calling from Summerville, South Carolina, and I have a story to tell," began Horace Williams, 62. "I'm a Marine from the Vietnam era, and it took me 20 years to get the benefits I was entitled to."

I can top that one. I filed my first VA disability compensation claim in 1971. It was FINALLY partially decided in my favor in the spring of 2005....AFTER I "reheated" the claim in 2002 and AFTER I had FIVE heart operations in a period of 15 months....

There are SERIOUS problems with the VA health care system. Bringing attention to those problems at a time like this is just SMART BUSINESS...while the "iron is hot".

Believe me, I've communicated with ex-Secretary Principi, and everyone ELSE I could think of over the past five years....and it's VERY difficult to get ANY press on this kind of issue...VERY difficult.

I went to ALL the national talk show hosts with it and NONE of them would touch it with a ten-foot pole....Rush, Sean, Savage, Ingraham, Bill Bennet, etc. The ONLY guy who gave me a whole two minutes was Alan Colmes.....that's RIGHT ...a "stinking liberal"....!!!

Unfortunately there are THOUSANDS of our fighting forces who are getting NO proper health care or compensation...NONE ....after DECADES of fighing for those things.

I don't care WHO prints a TRUTHFUL article about it, these matters will NOT be "solved" in any way without PUBLIC uproar.

I fought long and hard to get what little progress I could. The SAD thing about all this is that the SICKEST guys have not the energy or the time to fight political battles and budgetary issues...they are LITERALLY left to die in ignominy.

[USN 1967-70]

Here's one I BET you never heard of...

http://www1.va.gov/SHAD/

Contrary to ANY reports you may be able to find on this...the progress in getting these veterans their due is SEVERELY lacking...but, hey...it's only been 35 or 40 YEARS.

Somebody OUGHT TO "look bad" about that...from the top on down.


28 posted on 03/05/2007 1:21:04 PM PST by JB in Whitefish
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To: neverdem

AND what does Mrs. Bill Clinton have to say about this? After all, its her darling husband that cut the defense budget for 8 YEARS!!!!


29 posted on 03/05/2007 1:26:47 PM PST by HarleyLady27 (My ? to libs: "Do they ever shut up on your planet?" "Grow your own DOPE: Plant a LIB!")
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To: neverdem

I'd like to see the vets receiving their medical treatment at the same hospitals and providers that our congress people do and have our elected ruling class receive their care through the veterans administration. That will straighten everything out.


30 posted on 03/05/2007 1:31:55 PM PST by paul51 (11 September 2001 - Never forget)
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To: DakotaRed

-cause they can hang it on Bush.


31 posted on 03/05/2007 1:34:09 PM PST by tioga
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To: neverdem

A big part of the problem is the inability to fire stupid and lazy staff


32 posted on 03/05/2007 1:34:32 PM PST by mel
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To: dangerdoc

Yes me also


33 posted on 03/05/2007 1:35:05 PM PST by mel
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To: jackibutterfly

If only it were that easy. :) The Navy base is actually on Santo Stefano. You have to take a boat from La Maddalena or Palau (on Sardinia) to get there.


34 posted on 03/05/2007 1:35:23 PM PST by Doohickey (I am not unappeasable. YOU are just too easily appeased.)
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To: DakotaRed

That is what I don't understand, the quality of care at VAs has not been that much of a hidden secret


35 posted on 03/05/2007 1:35:59 PM PST by mel
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To: politicalwit

"I've had recent experiences with the VA. Strangely enough, saying this as a healthcare professional, I have had nothing but excellent service and treatment. The facilities have modern, up to date equipment and overall very clean and professionally managed. My disappointment comes from the fact 75% of the staff speaks english as a second language."

It REALLY varies a lot from locale to locale.

I've had the questionable "plus" of having been treated at Military/VA hospitals in Bremerton, WA, San Diego, CA Ft. Harrison, MT Denver, Co Salt Lake City, UT and East Orange, NJ.

This included three "experimental" heart operations for a rare condition...and stays up to 8 1/2 months. In general the nursing staff and such are VERY dedicated people...the doctors that are their on internships leave a bit to be desired in some instances...and the WORST of the lot seem to be the "mental health care professionals" who seem to speak English only at gunpoint.

Given the hundreds of thousands of dollars my emergency health care WOULD HAVE cost due to my being unemployed at the time due to my failing health.....I was 'LUCKY' to have gotten ANY care of the sort that saved my life....

But, I've ALSO seen rather dismal results in certain situations. Believe me, I do NOT relish the amount of experience I have had and do NOT enjoy becoming "institutionalized" by "the system".

But, I HAVE learned a few things about playing the game. One of which is that the "patient advocate" in ALL VA facilities is often a good place to start if you encounter particularly egregious behaviour. Another is to get a qualified Service Organization behind you.

After all is said and done, however...the LARGEST and DEEPEST problems come from the administrative side of the VA absolutely REFUSING to communicate with the medical side. This is NOT a "joke". The lack of cooperation is STUNNING.

The major problem for many veterans is not getting "good health care"...it's getting ANY health care whatsoever.

Many get discouraged at the overburden of paperwork. Some of us have NO choice as most public concerns will NOT attend to you as a "charity" case....unless, of course, you snuck over the border at night.

Oh, and speaking from experience...you CAN get innefective or unprofessional parties REMOVED from the system...but THAT takes some congressional horsepower.

Which puts back where we started...

With an OPPORTUNITY to set off some alarm bells in the Public's mind. And, the BEST part of this is that the media coverage is FREE....!!!


36 posted on 03/05/2007 1:39:12 PM PST by JB in Whitefish
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To: JB in Whitefish

I'm not sure why you are hollerin' at me. I answered DakotaRed's question as to why it's in the news all of the sudden. That's all.

As far as letting them sweep it under the rug--not with me they don't. I have been fighting with TriCare and military hospitals since my first wonderful induction into the world of the military medicine. That would be giving birth to my youngest in a hallway at Camp Pendleton after being shoved out there and told I was not in labor (it was my third, I think I may have known) and to stop complaining; right up to my last lovely encounter, when my 8 year old had a 102.4 fever, and I was sent to urgent care (no full-service clinic here in lovely Yuma) only to be told that TriCare hadn't gotten around to paying them (4 months after my last visit) so I was more than welcome to go spend 10 hours in the local emergency room, where I was free to wait with a very sick child while all the illegal immigrants with no insurance got to go whizzing on through. There are plenty of nightmarish encounters in between.

I don't blame the doctors (well, except one, but this is too public a forum to get into that), I blame the beaurocracy. And I'm sorry, but all the newspaper exposes in the world isn't going to change it. It may change WRAMC (and rightfully, it should), but it will fade from the public eye, Britney will have another breakdown and distract the general American public and things will go back to business as usual in no time. Sadly enough, when it doesn't fit the mainstream agenda, the majority of the public flat out doesn't give a crap. It's not a PC enough cause. That in no way refers to anyone here. I know we all care, but we aren't in charge anymore.


37 posted on 03/05/2007 1:41:35 PM PST by USMCWife6869 (Godspeed Sand Sharks.)
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To: theBuckwheat

Actually the soldiers and vets would fare better if they were illegal aliens. That way they could be treated in ANY emergency room for ANY problem at ANY time.


38 posted on 03/05/2007 1:42:34 PM PST by sheana
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To: neverdem
Welcome to universal health care, aka socialized medicine. Lefty WaPo, keep doing your muckraking!

I hope our Pubbie Congress-critters are as astute as you and will use this ironic situation to good effect in the partisan "show" hearings. VA hospitals have been a disgrace forever, but the WAPost is only interested when it thinks it can embarrass our side. Unfortunately, by firing the General in charge, the Administration has basically accepted responsibility.

39 posted on 03/05/2007 1:43:07 PM PST by Bernard Marx
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To: JB in Whitefish

I had excellent treatment as a dependent under Tricare while husband was stationed at Norfolk. Gave birth to a healthy baby at Langley AFB. No complaints.


40 posted on 03/05/2007 1:49:36 PM PST by Pan_Yans Wife (Life isn't fair. It's just fairer than death, that's all.--William Goldman)
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To: USMCWife6869

"And I'm sorry, but all the newspaper exposes in the world isn't going to change it."

I can absolutely GUARANTEE you that you are dead wrong on that point. Congressmen and women don't give a darn about ANY issue until they think it might become a re-election issue. Taking the opportunity to write or call them DOES work..

OK, not very well in some instances, but throwing one's hands up in despair is counter-productive. Also speaking from experience, one person CAN make a difference. THIS is one of those times to act...while it's fresh in people's minds. You will not win every skirmish..but, the battle goes to those with the fortitude to win and the stamina to keep hammering away at the problems UNTIL they are solved...

end of sermon.


41 posted on 03/05/2007 1:50:40 PM PST by JB in Whitefish
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To: Doohickey

Exactly. It only made matters worse when vets without service-connected disabilities were given access to VA hospitals in the 90's.


42 posted on 03/05/2007 1:51:33 PM PST by ekwd (Murphy's Law Has Not Been Repealed)
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To: politicalwit

I have used the VA system for the last few years and have been pleased. I even had some minor surgery....excellent care. The VA is the best at preventative medicine....I get a complete physical every 8 months.... Had a scare with a scar on my left lung....turned out to be nothing but the highest praise for the professionals that diagnosed it and the follow up CAT scans to insure it was nothing. After each scan a Doc would call me and tell me everything was OK. I doubt if a Doc would have called from any civilian hospitals. I suspect that most on this board bad mouthing the care have no recent first hand experience.


43 posted on 03/05/2007 1:52:47 PM PST by RVN Airplane Driver ("To be born into freedom is an accident; to die in freedom is an obligation..)
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To: paul51

"I'd like to see the vets receiving their medical treatment at the same hospitals and providers that our congress people do and have our elected ruling class receive their care through the veterans administration. That will straighten everything out."

SAD, but true....!!!

I said the other day that you can BET this problem would have been fixed in a week, if not over night had the Hospital Honchos been put in Building 18 at Walter Reed.

Lifetime bureacrats are DESTROYING this country.


44 posted on 03/05/2007 1:52:57 PM PST by JB in Whitefish
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To: neverdem
Hello, I so agree.....this is a glaring example of government run health care.....I find it disgusting the elected run around acting like this is news to them. I know they have been contacted by many people trying to take care of our wounded warriors regarding the VA systems but the alarms have been ignored by the elected. Our military deserves so much more....
45 posted on 03/05/2007 1:59:58 PM PST by Kimmers
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To: Pan_Yans Wife

"I had excellent treatment as a dependent under Tricare while husband was stationed at Norfolk. Gave birth to a healthy baby at Langley AFB. No complaints."

Like I said, it varies WIDELY, depending on the location and individual in question.

Just for the record...I am 100% service-connected disabled.

I won't go into the horror stories from my experiences at the Denver VA in the early 70's. Let's just say things have improved IMMENSELY.

The heart operations I received in 2002 and 2003 were literally "state of the art". Thank GOD the Denver VA is three blocks from the University of Colorado Medical Center and one of THEIR well-known surgeons decided to save my life....!!

The BATTLE that it took to GET that health care left a bit to be desired, however. That's why I'm saying the disconnect between the administrative and medical "sides" of the VA is where most of the problems arise.

The other cause of many of the problems is that the VA Budget is FIRST on the list in Congress to steal from for other "critical" matters.


46 posted on 03/05/2007 2:01:55 PM PST by JB in Whitefish
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Comment #47 Removed by Moderator

To: neverdem

The vet across the street from me was sent home with a broken collarbone and broken ribs. They knew about them, but they said they couldn't treat them?

When home, the rib pierced his lung and it collapsed. He's been in and out of hospital ever since, and his shoulder is completely frozen.

Something is rotten.


48 posted on 03/05/2007 2:16:21 PM PST by I still care ("Remember... for it is the doom of men that they forget" - Merlin, from Excalibur)
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To: baton pointu

I'm not saying they are making it up, I am saying they reported it *now* because it worked for them. I know they aren't making it up. But it's been like this for a long time. If they cared so much, why wait so long. Why not report on this ages ago. Why have our Vietnam Veterans been dealing with this for decades if the WaPo cares so very much.

I'm not saying the story isn't true, I'm just saying it isn't a new story, nor will all of this hand-wringing that the WaPo is doing right now change anything if the general public doesn't stick with their anger over it. But, unfortunately, and I don't believe that they will. Another pet cause will come along.

Again, I don't mean the general FReeper public, but the American public in general.


49 posted on 03/05/2007 2:22:51 PM PST by USMCWife6869 (Godspeed Sand Sharks.)
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To: USMCWife6869

::sigh:: I forgot all my question marks. Please pretend there are question marks at the end of all the questions.


50 posted on 03/05/2007 2:24:00 PM PST by USMCWife6869 (Godspeed Sand Sharks.)
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