For the fourth day in a row, the Army's top medical officer was grilled about the way wounded warriors are treated when they return home.
Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley, who ran the Walter Reed Army Medical Center between 2002 and 2004, again offered contrite apologies for the situation at the Army's premier medical facility.
While some have called for his firing, the Army surgeon general has told members of Congress he still believes he has the "skill sets" to fix the problems at Walter Reed and the problems that have surfaced with the entire Army medical system.
Aggressive Plan to Answer Critics
As Kiley was apologizing, the Army's No.2 general was laying out an aggressive plan to answer critics of soldier care. Gen. Richard Cody said wounded soldiers deserve better.
"They've been carrying a rucksack in combat. And right now as they go through our system, I don't want them carrying a rucksack of bureaucracy, and we are going to fix that," the vice chairman of the Army told reporters after touring Walter Reed.
Cody announced that a so-called Tiger team would visit all the major Army treatment centers. That team would have just 30 days to report back (see list below). Also in 30 days, Cody wants issues at Walter Reed fixed. He will hold a video conference Friday with hospital commanders around the world on plans for Walter Reed, which could be applied to other facilities.
The Problems With Leadership
Cody said many of the problems at Walter Reed have to do with leadership.
In a stinging rebuke of Kiley and his staff, Cody announced the appointment of Brig. Gen. Mike Tucker to be the deputy commander at Walter Reed. Tucker comes from the combat side, not the medical side of the Army.
"I want our medical professionals to be focused on the medical things that they need to do," said Cody.
The Army will also stand up a new brigade for soldier care at Walter Reed, a one-stop family assistance office, to increase the number of case workers and establish an "800" number for complaints.
Cody knows the Army's reputation has been badly damaged. "I want to rebuild trust, soldier to soldier."
Broad Look at Military Medical System
The wretched conditions at one of Walter Reed's buildings, where mice and mold were found, has touched off a much broader look at the military medical system.
Members of Congress have called Walter Reed "just the tip of an iceberg" of a bureaucratic maze that soldiers face when they become outpatients. Questions about disability and retirement, psychological services and retribution for speaking out have all surfaced in recent days.
And the nation's capital has been seized by the controversy.
There are now nearly 10 separate investigations into the military's medical system. A half dozen committees or subcommittees have held hearings, and more are ahead.
Army facilities to be inspected:
Winn Army Community Hospital, Fort Stewart, Ga.
Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center, Fort Gordon, Ga.
Tripler Army Medical Center, Honolulu, Hawaii
Blanchfield Army Community Hospital at Fort Campbell, Ky.
Ireland Army Community Hospital at Fort Knox, Ky.
Guthrie Ambulatory Health Care Clinic, Fort Drum, N.Y.
Womack Army Medical Center, Fort Bragg, N.C.
Darnall Army Community Hospital, Fort Hood, Texas
Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas
William Beaumont Army Medical Center, Fort Bliss, Texas
Madigan Army Medical Center, Fort Lewis, Wash.