Despite Knowledge Of Deplorable Conditions, Rep. Young Praised Army’s Top Medical Official

sotu_250—192shkl.jpgIn today’s Washington Post, Rep. Bill Young (R-FL) admits that he has known of the neglect and deplorable conditions at Walter Reed for years, but didn’t do anything because when he approached hospital officials, they made him “feel very uncomfortable.”

Young’s excuse is pathetic. From 1999-2005, he served as chairman of the Appropriations Committee, which controls all federal discretionary spending. Young could have easily subpoenaed the Army and conducted a thorough public investigation.

The real problem may be that Young was too close to Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley, a key figure in this scandal, to take action. On Jan. 19, 2007 — years after Young had learned of the neglect but one month before the Washington Post revealed it to the public — Kiley testified before a House subcommittee. Young reminisced about how he had known Kiley “very, very well over the years,” and praised him as “committed to providing our war heroes with the very, very best medical care that is possible.”

YOUNG: Well, Mr. Chairman, I want to join you in welcoming our guests and our witnesses today, having known especially Don Arthur and General Kiley very, very well over the years. I thought they’d get tired of seeing us in their hospitals. And we haven’t had as much opportunity to visit with the Air Force, General. But I know that these gentlemen are committed to providing our war heroes with the very, very best medical care that is possible.

But as today’s Post shows, Rep. Young’s wife Beverly (and presumably Young himself) knew that Kiley was a key figure responsible for the neglect:

Beverly Young said she complained to Kiley several times. She once visited a soldier who was lying in urine on his mattress pad in the hospital. When a nurse ignored her, Young said, “I went flying down to Kevin Kiley’s office again, and got nowhere. He has skirted this stuff for five years and blamed everyone else.”

Young said that even after Kiley left Walter Reed to become the Army’s surgeon general, “if anything could have been done to correct problems, he could have done it.”