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Surgeon General Of Army Steps Down
Kiley initially sought to deflect the reports after The Post published a series of reports on the conditions faced by veterans receiving care there, saying the problems "weren't serious and there weren't a lot of them," and that they were not "emblematic of a process of Walter Reed that has abandoned soldiers and their families."
He later sought to soften his approach and told congressional panels that he wanted to stay on the job and lead the Army's medical community through systemic change but acknowledged that he was in a tenuous position. He was meeting with top Army officials inside the Pentagon as late as Friday to discuss ways to fix medical bureaucracy and identify shortcomings at facilities around the world.
Kiley commented only briefly when reached via e-mail yesterday, saying that he was "off to retirement" and "proud to have served this great nation." He said that he might pursue a job in executive medicine.
"I submitted my retirement because I think it is in the best interest of the Army," Kiley said in an official statement, adding that he wants the Army to focus on the way forward. "We are an Army Medical Department at war, supporting an Army at war. It shouldn't be and it isn't about one doctor."
Members of Congress yesterday applauded Kiley's exit but said there is still much work to be done.
"The changes in leadership that have occurred since the situation at Walter Reed gained public attention are the first step," said Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. "But this step alone will not fix the problems that our wounded and injured service members experience when they are in recovery. With the installation of new leaders, the real test will be making sure that the work fixing problems actually gets done."
The announcement came after Kiley served about 2 1/2 years of a surgeon general's standard four-year term, which is traditionally followed by retirement. An Army official said Kiley will likely retire as a two-star major general -- instead of as a three-star lieutenant general -- because he has not served a full three years in his current grade. Kiley could appeal for a waiver from the defense secretary to allow him to retire as a three-star general.
Geren, the acting Army secretary, said the service will move quickly to appoint a permanent surgeon general, citing the position's importance in implementing a plan to address shortcomings in veterans' care.
A certified registered nurse anesthetist who has 30 years of service in the Army, Pollock also has an MBA from Boston University and a master's degree in health-care administration from Baylor University. Before moving to Kiley's office in October, Pollock most recently commanded Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii.
Staff writer Dana Priest and researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.