On February 18, 2007 the Washington Post broke a startling story (a long 5 page article) describing neglect and frustration the wounded soldiers from Iran and Afghanistan face when they’re sent to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. One particular building, known as building 18, stands out because of the more advanced deteriorating conditions.
Deteriorating conditions include rotting ceilings and walls, mouse droppings, dead cockroaches, stained carpets and cheap mattresses. The elevator and garage door don’t work, and sometimes there isn’t any heat or water.
The report goes on to detail how the 5 1/2 years of heavily sustained combat has transformed the once highly respected Medical Center into a holding ground for approximately 700 physically and psychologically damaged outpatient soldiers and Marines who still need treatment or are awaiting bureaucratic decisions on their treatment before they’re discharged or returned to active duty.
These outpatients are suffering from brain injuries, severed arms and legs, organ and back damage and various other degrees of post-traumatic stress. The wounded manage other wounded. Soldiers with psychological disorders of their own are in charge of other soldiers at risk of suicide. The average stay is 10 months, but some have been stuck there for as long as two years or more.