Friday, February 23, 2007

Painting over perfidy

Dana Millbank posts an artful column on the Pentagon's whitewash at Walter Reed. I loved this part.
After the media tour of Building 18, the Army's surgeon general gave a news conference. "I do not consider Building 18 to be substandard," he said of a facility Priest and Hull found full of "mouse droppings, belly-up cockroaches, stained carpets, cheap mattresses" and other delights. "We needed to do a better job on some of those rooms, and those of you that got in today saw that we frankly have fixed all of those problems. They weren't serious, and there weren't a lot of them."

Kiley might have had a stronger case if men wearing Tyvek hazmat suits and gas masks hadn't walked through the lobby while the camera crews waited for the tour to start, or if he hadn't acknowledged, moments later, that the entire building would have to be closed for a complete renovation.
The miltary brass rushed in the press to inspect the "improvements" before the paint was even dry but as it has been pointed out repeatedly, the problems at Walter Reed are systemic and can't be fixed by an emergency call for surface repairs. Nor is it limited to one facility.

The military's neglect of our veterans has been going on for decades and has only been subjected to scrutiny now because of the dismal treatment of the war wounded. I fear once the cameras disappear, so will the sense of urgency to address the core concerns of those who held up their end of the bargain to risk their lives to protect our country, only to find themselves tossed aside like outdated munitions once they've served their purpose.
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