Iowa Congressman Bruce Braley says he was amazed and disturbed by some of the testimony he heard Monday in a House hearing on the problems with the treatment of wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Braley, a Democrat from Waterloo, says the Washington, D.C. facility appears to be a bureaucratic nightmare.
Braley says the thing that struck him about the testimony was there was "literally no help for navigating the complex system of the medical evaluation boards and the physical evaluation boards." Braley says there were many stories of "inconsistent outcomes" for service related disabilities under the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration ratings systems. Braley says he was also dismayed at the way top Army officials tried to shift the blame to a lack or medical knowledge for treating soldiers, or being hampered by medical disclosure laws.
Braley says he got no satisfaction after telling Army surgeon general and former Walter Reed commander General Kevin Kiley about a Waterloo company that used a lot of its personal resources to provide prosthetics to wounded soldiers. Braley says he asked how he was supposed to explain to the company the sacrifice they made was being rewarded by the way the soldiers were being treated.
Braley says instead of seeing this as being a great sign of the sacrifices being made by citizens around the country for our veterans, "General Kiley seemed more concerned about the fact that company was no performing those services under a government contract. And, I found his response amazing." Braley says Clark and Associates of Waterloo spent a lot of time at a great personal cost to help veterans get fitted for artificial limbs.
Braley says his background as a lawyer allowed him see through the "smoke" that administrators were putting out in trying to deflect the blame for the problems. Braley says many of the problems were due to a lack of planning and a failure to prepare for the consequences of the war, and he says that falls squarely on the Bush administration. Braley says there were some Iowans who faced problems after being wounded and treated at Walter Reed. Braley says he has not heard from him specifically, but Sergeant Mike Smith of Dubuque was featured in one of the newspaper articles about the problems with disability claims.
Braley is hopeful the hearings and attention to the problems will lead to changes. Braley says, "We received repeated assurances from every member associated with the Army yesterday, that these problems will be resolved, and we continue to have oversight hearings until they are." Braley says the issue is a combination of problems in the Army and Veterans Administration systems. Braley represents Iowa’s first district.