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Congressman Yarmuth calls for Investigation into Care at Walter Reed


(Washington, DC)  Today, Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) continued his efforts to assure oversight of the Administration's plan to care for returning soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan after reports of intolerable care at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Congressman Yarmuth and a unified Democratic freshman class were joined by one Republican in calling for an independent assessment by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) of "the adequacy of the Administration's long term plans to provide the full range of necessary services for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars while continuing to care for veterans of previous wars."  The GAO is the independent non-partisan watchdog of federal spending.

"There is no excuse that can justify allowing soldiers, who were wounded fighting for this country, to return home and receive this appalling level of care," Yarmuth said.  "Our nation's greatness will be measured not only by the strength of our forces in battle, but by our commitment to care for our service men and women when they return home."

The following letter was sent to the Comptroller General today:


March 1, 2007

The Honorable David M. Walker
Comptroller General
United States General Accounting Office
441 G Street, NW
Washington, DC  20548

Dear Comptroller General Walker,

As new members of the House of Representatives, we are writing out of concern over recent press reports that have exposed glaring problems in the delivery of outpatient health care for recovering soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.  As you know, this issue is now being investigated by various Congressional committees.

These reports raise broader questions about whether the federal government is prepared to meet the needs of all returning soldiers in addition to the ongoing needs of veterans of previous wars.

The situation at Building 18 is a clear indicator of a systemic failure in the delivery of quality outpatient health care and services to those who have bravely served our country.  We are concerned that this failure may be the tip of the iceberg in terms of a lack of readiness for the significant needs of returning veterans, particularly in the context of the Administration's proposed out year reductions in the budget for the Veterans Administration.

We believe the cost of war must include caring for the warrior.  To that end, we are asking the General Accounting Office to conduct an independent assessment of the adequacy of the Administration's long term plans to provide the full range of necessary services for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars while continuing to care for veterans of previous wars.

A thorough examination of this issue is critical to ensure that we meet our moral obligation to those who have answered the call of duty.  We look forward to working with you on this important study.