Mar 12 2007

Walter Reed fallout

Birmingham News

By Mary Orndorff

Today's word that Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley was retiring probably didn't bother two members of Alabama's congressional delegation who snapped at the Army surgeon general last week in separate hearings over the conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Here was Rep. Bud Cramer, D-Huntsville:

"And General Kiley I have to say to you, this is one hell of a way for veterans and their families to get an apology from you. And that's just the beginning of what we need to do. I congratulate these family members for stepping forward, maybe contrary to the pressure that was on them within the system, and having the courage to come in and tell their stories. I've been in a hospital setting with a loved one that was dying or likely to die on me. And you're at your most vulnerable when you're in that situation. And we should not treat our young men and women and their families this way at all."

And here is part of the testy exchange between Kiley and Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala.:

Shelby: Do you believe you fulfilled your duty?

Kiley: I believe that the management of Walter Reed, and the accountability which I'm accountable for...

Shelby: Absolutely.

Kiley: ... is similar to my accountability for places like Landstuhl and Brooke. Clearly, it's not the only responsibility I have. I have many other responsibilities of a global nature, to include broad, strategic, and policy issues.

Shelby: But what's your number one obligation? To the wounded soldier, is it not?

Kiley: Getting soldiers off the battlefield alive, getting them through Landstuhl and getting them to all of my medical...

Shelby: Absolutely.