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unbalanced soap box

I think that the media has a way of slanting most things in life. It’s never grey…it’s always black and white, and most days those views support a very liberal slant. I am not saying that being liberal in some means isn’t okay. Everyone has their own point of view. BUT it’s obvious when you read a newspaper or watch the nightly news most days that it is pretty one sided. And most Americans take what the media says…not with a grain of salt…but by pulling out their soap box to stand on– without the whole story. Not everything is as it seems.

This email I’m going to re-post is just something to think about. I just thought it was a wonderful and balanced counter to an issue – that in my opinion … is being misrepresented and presented in a very unbalanced way … and, at the expense of the Military Medical System.

Today the Oklahoman Newspaper reports, which you also can see at http://www.newsok.com, that Mary Fallon, our new Congresswoman, took a tour of our VA Hospital. Her comments were on many of the good things that she saw and some administrative things that need be improved. This was balanced reporting!

Quoting my father, retired Officer in the Marines of 30 years, “The Walter Reed MC ‘thing’ is a good case in point of how the liberal media is not even-handed in their reporting. From my readings this issue is being fanned and blown out of proportion by the Democrats (read election year) and used as another way to weaken and embarrass a Republican Administration.

Politicians seemingly get away with libeling slander … that shouldn’t be. You and I would be subject to … at least a civil law suit. And, we could be the subject of a Federal Charge (for a Hate Crime) if “IT” (our slanderous statements) … were directed towards someone of certain cultural &/or ethic backgrounds.”

I think my dear old dad hit it on the head!!!

Here is the letter I received for your reading enjoyment:

Sent: Tuesday, March 13, 2007 10:43 AM

I have had enough and am going to give my
perspective on the news about Walter Reed Army
Medical Center. Please understand that I am speaking
for myself and I am responsible for my thoughts
alone. The news media and politicians are making it
sound like Walter Reed is a terrible place and the
staff here has been abusing our brave wounded
soldiers; what a bunch of bull!

I am completing my 24th year of service in the Army
next month so you decide for yourself if I have the
experience to write about this topic. I have been
the senior clinical chaplain at Walter Reed for
four years and will leave to go back to the infantry
this summer. I supervise the chaplain staff inside
Walter Reed that cares for the 200 inpatients, the
650+ daily outpatients from the war who come to us
for medical care, the 4000+ staff, and over 3000
soldiers and their families that come for clinical
appointments daily.

Walter Reed has cared for over 5500 wounded from the
war. I cannot count the number of sick and
non-battle injured that have come through over that
timeframe. The staff at this facility has done an
incredible job at the largest US military medical
center with the worst injured of the war. We have
cared for over 400 amputees and their families. I am
privileged to serve the wounded, their families, and
our staff.

When the news about building 18 broke I was on
leave. I was in shock when the news broke. We in the
chaplains office in Walter Reed, as well as the
majority of people at Walter Reed, did not know
anyone was in building 18. I didn’t even know we had
a building 18. How can that happen? Walter Reed is
over 100 acres of 66 buildings on two installations.
Building 18 is not on the installation of Walter
Reed and was believed to be closed years ago by our

The fact that some leaders in the medical brigade
that is in charge of the outpatients put soldiers in
there is terrible. That is why the company
commander, first sergeant, and a group of platoon
leaders and platoon sergeants were relieved
immediately. They failed their soldiers and the
Army. The commanding general was later relieved
(more about this) and his sergeant major has been
told to move on–if he gets to. The brigade sergeant
major was relieved and more relief’s are sure to
come and need to.

As any leader knows, if you do not take care of
soldiers, lie, and then try to cover it up, you are
not worthy of the commission you hold and should be
sent packing. I have no issue, and am actually
proud, that they did relieve the leaders they found
who knew of the terrible conditions some of our
outpatients were enduring. The media is making it
sound like these conditions are rampant at Walter
Reed and nothing could be further from the truth. We
need improvements and will now get them. I hate it
that it took this to make it happen.

The Army and the media made MG Weightman, our CG,
out to be the problem and fired him. This was a
great injustice. He was only here for six months, is
responsible for military medical care in the 20
Northeast states, wears four “hats” of
responsibilities, and relies on his subordinate
leaders to know what is happening in their areas of
responsibilities. He has a colonel that runs the
hospital (my hospital commander), a colonel that
runs the medical brigade (where the outpatient
wounded are assigned and supposedly cared for), and
a colonel that is responsible to run the garrison
and installation.

What people don’t know is that he was making many
changes as he became aware of them and had requested
money to fix other places on the installation. The
Army did not come through until four months after he
asked for the money, remember that he was here only
six months, which was only days before they relieved
him. His leaders responsible for outpatient care did
not tell him about conditions in building 18. He has
been an incredible leader who really cares about the
wounded, their families, and our staff. I cannot say
the same about a former commander, who was my first
commander here at Walter Reed, and definitely knew
about many problems and is in the position to fix
them and he did not.

MG Weightman also should not be held responsible for
the military’s unjust and inefficient medical board
system and the problems in the VA system. We lost a
great leader and passionate man who showed he had
the guts to make changes and was doing so when he
was made the scapegoat for others.

What I am furious about is that the media is making
it sound like all of Walter Reed is like building
18. Nothing could be further from the truth. No
system is perfect but the medical staff provides
great care in this hospital. What needs to be
addressed, and finally will, is the bureaucratic
garbage that all soldiers are put through going into
medical boards and medical retirements. Congress is
finally giving the money that people have asked for
at Walter Reed for years to fix places on the
installations and address shortcomings. What they
don’t want you to know is Congress caused many
problems by the BRAC process saying they were
closing Walter Reed.

We cannot keep nor attract all the quality people we
need at Walter Reed when they know this place will
close in several years and they are not promised a
job at the new hospital. Then they did this thing
call A76 where they fired many of the workers here
for a company of contractors, IAP, to get a contract
to provide care outside the hospital proper. The
company, which is responsible for maintenance, only
hired half the number of people as there were
originally assigned to maintenance areas to save
money. Walter Reed leadership fought the A76 and
BRAC process for years, but lost. Congress
instituted the BRAC and A76 process; not the
leadership of Walter Reed.

What I wish everyone would also hear is that for
every horror story we are now hearing about in the
media that truly needs to be addressed, you are not
hearing about the hundreds of other wounded and
injured soldiers who tell a story of great care they
received. You are not hearing about the incredibly
high morale of our troops and the fact that most of
them want to go back, be with their teammates, and
finish the job properly. You should be very proud of
the wounded troopers we have at Walter Reed. They
make me so proud to be in the Army and I will fight
to get their story out.

I want you to hear the whole story because our
wounded, their families, our Army, and the nation
need to know that many in the media and select
politicians have an agenda. Forget agendas and make
the changes that have been needed for years to fix
problems in every ! military hospital and the VA
system. The poor leaders will be identified and sent
packing and good riddance to them. I wish the same
could be said for the politicians and media
personalities who are also responsible but now want
it to look like they are very concerned. Where have
they been for the last four years? I am ashamed of
what they all did and the pain it has caused many to
think that everyone is like that.

Please know that you are not hearing the whole
story. Please know that there are thousands of
dedicated soldiers and civilian medical staff caring
for your soldiers and their families. When I leave
here I will end up deploying. When soldiers in my
division have to go to Walter Reed from the
battlefield, I know they will get great medical
care. I pray that you know the same thing.

God bless all our troops and their families wherever
they may be.
God bless you all,

Chaplain John L. Kallerson
Senior Chaplain Clinician
Walter Reed Army Medical Center


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