Friday, November 27, 2015

A place where wounded soldiers languished

In 2007 what was going on in Building 18 of Walter Reed Hospital was made public because reporters cared enough to do more than just listen to the wounded soldiers there. It was a part of a systemic attitude of bitter cruelty being passed off as caring for those who risked their lives.

What happened at Walter Reed was a national disgrace, but the way some Americans reacted was despicable.  They jumped to defend President Bush against the truth.  Much like today when reporters cover scandals at the VA, they are only interested in what is easy to complain about and not what has been going on for decades almost as if the past just didn't matter at all.

All of this is how we ended up right were we are today. For all the talk about being a grateful nation, in reality, we've turned into a nation of neglecters of the defenders.

So now Building 18 is gone but the damage done remains.
Saying Goodbye To Building 18 — Symbol Of Neglect For Military's Medical System
WAMU
By: Nahanni Rous
November 20, 2015
“It was very clear to me on many levels that we were not prepared for the number of wounded coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan, and that’s why service members ended up in Building 18 to begin with,” Staff Sgt. John Daniel Shannon

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced this month the city will pay the U.S. Army $22.5 million for 66 acres of the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center, which closed in 2011 after the Base Realignment and Closure Act.

But the city already owns one piece of the campus: formerly known as Building 18. This nondescript off-white brick building on Georgia Avenue is being demolished to make way for a new fire station for Engine Company 22.

Crews in fluorescent vests throw metal door frames and sheets of wallboard out of third floor windows. Trucks haul away debris. The structure looks like an abandoned, second rate motel. Walter Reed’s Building 18 once housed soldiers wounded in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A place where wounded soldiers languished

Staff Sgt. John Daniel Shannon was treated at Walter Reed from 2004-2007. He says soldiers should never have been living there.
Nahanni RousD.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and other officials break ground for a new fire station on the site of Walter Reed's Building 18.
“I think it should have been demolished a long time ago. It should have been demolished before they put service members in it," he says.

Dan Shannon is a decorated veteran of the Iraq war and served as a sniper with the Second Infantry Division. At the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Walter Reed Army Medical Center was bursting at the seams.

“It was very clear to me on many levels that we were not prepared for the number of wounded coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan, and that’s why service members ended up in Building 18 to begin with,” he says.

There were amputees, soldiers with traumatic brain injuries and post traumatic stress disorder. At the peak of the Iraq War, there were 900 soldiers on the campus, plus family members who came to help take care of them. Building 18 was part of the facility, but it was outside the gates. And it was decrepit. There was black mold on the walls, and mice and cockroaches in rooms where soldiers with open wounds were staying.

Washington Post reporters Dana Priest and Anne Hull spent four months posing as friends of patients to gain access to Walter Reed.

“Building 18 represented to me a microcosm of what was going on on the larger campus," Priest says.

Priest and Hull won a Pulitzer Prize for their 2007 series, which led with Building 18. The reporters described how a mountainous bureaucracy, lost paperwork, and insufficient social services kept soldiers languishing at Walter Reed, and Building 18 became the bricks and mortar symbol of that neglect.

"The whole thing just didn’t make any sense, that this building would exist in this place that the president had said delivered the best medical care in the world for returning soldiers," Priest says.
read more here