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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Oh-O2 Jean Schmdt's Walter Reed 'Overblown' Fallout: A GOP Neighbor Found Things 'Deplorable'

DAYTION (TDB) -- When Oh-02 Rep. Jean Schmidt this week ripped reports of horrorific conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center as "overblown by both politicians and the media," she smacked her fellow Republican and neighbor in Oh-03. Dayton congressman Mike Turner was among the first to raise cane about conditions at the military hospital, and he didn't find the scandal overblown. Turner said the hospital was "deplorable."

He wanted Army's surgeon general fired, and wrote a letter two weeks ago to Defense Secretary Robert Gates that expressed disgust about Walter Reed and the care and treatment of veterans. Turner is a former Dayton mayor, and serves on the House Armed Services, Veterans and Government Reform Committees and attended hearings that gave him a much different picture than Schmidt, who said this week she wants future accounts to "bring more light to the real issues."

On March 8, Turner had no doubt about real issues.

His letter to Gates said: "It is unacceptable to believe that the Army would ever become so busy or unable to anticipate events that rodents or mold in a hospital zone's living quarters would ever become acceptable. Further, I am amazed that soldiers receiving care at Walter Reed were routinely unaccounted for and were left seeking each others' assistance to secure their needed medical care. Clearly, Gen. (Kevin) Kiley's performance does not merit the leadership standards of the U.S. military. As a result of the additional information learned during Congressional hearings, it is my strong recommendation that you relieve Lieutenant General Kiley of his command as surgeon general of the U.S. Army."

That eventually happened.

Turner said the conditions at the hospital were awful. But Schmidt lumped her colleague from a neighboring Ohio district among the politicians who exploited the issue, or trumped it up, or made it "overblown."

A STATEMENT has been available on Turner's official House Web site for nearly two weeks. Somehow, Schmidt must have overlooked what he had to say.

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