I suspect that part of the explanation for the decrepit state of outpatient facilities at Walter Reed Army Medical Center [front page, Feb. 18-19] relates to the decision of the federal Base Realignment and Closure Commission to close this most important military hospital in the middle of two major wars.
Military authorities seem reluctant to spend money maintaining and upgrading facilities that will soon be abandoned, particularly if they are out of public view, even though the expansion of the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda will not be completed for at least four years.
Perhaps the BRAC decision to close "old" Walter Reed should be reconsidered in light of the large number of casualties that arrive each week from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Regarding the Feb. 21 news story "Swift Action Promised at Walter Reed":
So, the secretary of the Army, Francis Harvey, blames the condition of Army facilities on noncommissioned officers? " 'We had some NCOs [noncommissioned officers] who weren't doing their job, period,' Harvey said."
But the Army has a well-deserved reputation for not spending enough to maintain facilities. The conditions for these wounded soldiers here get attention, but similar conditions are common in the Army. Many soldiers live and work in inadequately maintained facilities all over the world.
Conditions at Army facilities are a direct result of decisions made at headquarters on allocating resources and are counter to Defense Department policies. Mr. Harvey should stop blaming the troops, face up to the consequences of choices made by Army leadership and change the Army's deficient facility-management practices.
According to "Swift Action Promised at Walter Reed," "press secretary Tony Snow said that he spoke with President Bush yesterday about Walter Reed and that the president told him: 'Find out what the problem is and fix it.' "
The CEO of a major corporation wouldn't tell his public relations officer to fix a management problem in one of the corporation's main service divisions. He would tell the administrator in charge to fix it.
Is the press secretary in charge of serving veterans at Walter Reed?
Hardly. We need a new CEO.
KENNETH R. FREDGREN