WASHINGTON — Top Army officials faced an angry Congress during an emotional hearing about shoddy medical treatment and living conditions in Walter Reed Army Medical Center, acknowledging Monday that they have failed in the care of wounded military personnel.
Calling the scandal at Walter Reed “the tip of the iceberg of what is going on all around the country,” Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said soldiers, veterans and their families are “flooding us with complaints” about the burgeoning scandal. Citing a litany of news articles and congressional reports that exposed the problems over the past two years, Waxman cast doubt on claims by Army higher-ups that they were surprised by recent disclosures about shabby treatment of soldiers who had returned from Iraq and Afghanistan.
“We get officials who say they just didn’t know things were happening,” Waxman said. “I have a long list, a stack of reports and articles that sounded the alarm bells about what was going on here and around the country.”
Maj. Gen. George W. Weightman, fired as commander of the hospital complex last week, took personal responsibility for a failure of leadership.
“I failed,” he said. “We can’t fail one of these soldiers or their families, not one. And we did.”