Yesterday’s management shake-up at Walter Reed looks increasingly suspect. The Washington Post reports today that the hospital chief who was relieved of duty, Army Maj. Gen. George W. Weightman, is “well respected in the military medical community and well liked among the staff at Walter Reed.” He had been at the hospital for just half a year, and “instituted some changes to improve outpatient care.”
Weightman is being replaced for now by Army surgeon general Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley. As ThinkProgress documented yesterday, Kiley has known for years about the neglect and deplorable conditions at Walter Reed. Kiley was personally told about injured veterans who were “languishing and lost on the grounds,” sharing drugs and “drinking themselves to death,” and reportedly did nothing to address the problems. In one stunning case, Kiley took no action when personally informed that a soldier was sleeping in his own urine.
The Post today cites a defense official saying that Weightman’s firing and his replacement by Kiley “are likely to be demoralizing to the staff at the medical center.” The L.A. Times says Kiley may still be fired:
One military official said the Army was continuing to examine Kiley’s oversight of Walter Reed to determine whether he knew of the problems in the outpatient facilities.
“Those questions are being looked at,” said the official, who spoke on condition on anonymity. “Is this it? We don’t know. Potentially, there could be other heads that roll.”
But in the meantime, why would this man with a long record of neglect be placed back in charge of Walter Reed? The Post’s answer: because “the Army’s reshuffle is really about projecting the appearance of accountability, not punishing those most responsible.”