Saturday, March 03, 2007

Military Medicine Morass



You medical people will have more lives to answer for in the other world than even we generals.

-Napoléon


The Walter Reed story continues to play out across the media, and the ramifications expanded over the last 48 hours. For those out of the loop, an explosive Washington post exposé revealed squalid conditions and a morass of bureaucratic problems at the Walter Reed Medical Center on February 18th.

The General in Charge of Walter Reed was relieved, and then the Secretary of the Army was fired, largely because of his tepid response to fixing the problems at the Hospital (ie don't put the general who just left six months ago in charge of the hospital, he's probably part of the problem!).

The President himself addressed the issue, and plans to start a bipartisan investigation to "i
nvestigate how this situation was allowed to happen, how it can be fixed, and how we can prevent it from happening again".

It is shameful that wounded American Soldiers were housed in such atrocious conditions, and that after five years of war that procedures could not have been streamlined to free at least one group of people, the wounded, from the life-sucking procedural bureacracy that comprises the military's inner workings.

There are some silver clouds here though, meager though they may be. First of all, the military healthcare system is going to come under intense scrutiny, especially as it applies to the care of wounded Soldiers. The nerve-wracking process that casualties must go through to receive disability will likely be a casualty itself of this scandal as well; perhaps actuaries will play a lesser role in the process of determining disability payments, and future wounded Soldiers will move more quickly to their medical boards as well.

Secretary Gates set a good, stern example for his enormous defense bureaucracy, too. The SecDef held senior leaders accountable, and you can bet that his cannon shot into the chests of the former Army Secretary and hospital commander will be heard loud and clear across the ranks; no doubt there are closets being cleaned as these words go to print.

The War and the Media: Yet Another Look!

My new post is up over at the Elephant Bar. I talked a little about the new media and its effectivess in conveying information about what is going on in Iraq:

If one really wants to have an idea of what's going on in the war, scanning through some of the many excellent bloggers and regional media accounts is now the most effective way to get information (short of donning a uniform and going there yourself, of course!).

My guess is that the example of the old vs new media war coverage is intersubjective, too; that is, potential readers with interests other things, such as business, technology, and the like are probably relying more and more on new media outlets to gather and share information on their favorite topics.

Check out the whole thing here!