Walter Reed Chief Picked For Army Surgeon General

By Steve Vogel
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The general brought in to command Walter Reed Army Medical Center in the wake of a scandal over conditions at the hospital was nominated by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates yesterday as the new surgeon general of the Army.

Maj. Gen. Eric B. Schoomaker came to Walter Reed in March to replace Maj. Gen. George W. Weightman following disclosures of poor living conditions and bureaucratic nightmares experienced by some patients recovering from wounds suffered in Iraq and Afghanistan.

To replace Schoomaker at Walter Reed, the Army yesterday named Maj. Gen. Carla G. Hawley-Bowland, commanding general of Tripler Army Medical Center and the Pacific Regional Medical Command in Hawaii. Hawley-Bowland, who completed residency training in obstetrics and gynecology at Walter Reed, was previously command surgeon for U.S. Army Europe.

Schoomaker's nomination, and accompanying promotion to lieutenant general, is subject to congressional approval. Maj. Gen. Gale S. Pollock has been acting surgeon general since Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley stepped down under pressure in the wake of the scandal.

Schoomaker has received generally high marks within the Army and at the Pentagon for the job he has done at Walter Reed. However, outpatients still complain of problems with the hospital's bureaucracy, and a report last week from the Government Accountability Office warned that the Pentagon's promised fixes for Armywide problems are threatened by staff shortages and uncertainty.

"It's a great honor for my family and me to be nominated to continue to serve Soldiers and their Families," Schoomaker said yesterday in a statement.

No announcement has been made regarding a new assignment for Pollock, an Army spokeswoman said.

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