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    Thursday, March 15, 2007

    Everything Old is New Again: The Walter Reed scandal was a scandal that shouldn't have happened. Congress didn't listen two years ago:

    On Feb. 17, 2005--two years ago--GOP Rep. Tom Davis and the government reform committee held a public hearing on the maltreatment of wounded soldiers. The hearing was the culmination of an investigation, begun in 2003, by the committee and the Government Accountability Office. Virtually everything of substance in that Washington Post story was described, in numbing detail, at that hearing two years ago. Two soldiers, Army Sgts. John Allen and Joseph Perez, appeared before the Davis hearing and described their tours through the same hell painted by the Post last month.

    Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, described the problems at Walter Reed in words that should be inscribed on portals across every bridge leading into Washington: "Life every day in this system is like running in hip boots in a swamp." He called it a "bureaucratic morass."

    The core of the problem has been the peacetime administrative system's difficulty in handling wounded or disabled soldiers from the reserves and National Guard. In the words of the system itself, they have "fallen off orders." Here's how that happens:

    To enter treatment, a wounded reservist would ask to have his "active duty orders"--i.e., the order that called him up for Iraq or Afghanistan--extended for 90 days, what is called an active duty medical extension, or ADME. But some soldiers would fall off their active orders before the ADME came through. Others, often with complex injuries, would use up their three-month ADME and again fall off orders before receiving a renewal.

    Sgt. First Class Allen told the Davis committee in laymen's terms what this means: "When my orders expire, it creates a multitude of problems for me and my family: no pay, no access to the base [such as Walter Reed], no medical coverage for my family and the cancellation of all my scheduled medical appointments."

    Someone should make a movie called "National Lampoon's Federal Government." The dialogue would include this line from the GAO's Gregory Kutz describing the soldiers' problem: "overall, we found the current stove-piped, non-integrated order-writing, personnel, pay, and medical eligibility systems require extensive error-prone manual data entry and re-entry." That's right--"and re-entry."

    Bureaucratic inertia - it's usually fatal.

    posted by Sydney on 3/15/2007 08:40:00 AM 1 comments


    Ah ... would this be the same bureaucratic inertia that socialized medicine advocates want to foist on the civilian health care system?

    By Anonymous David, at 9:29 PM  

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