Army Expands Investigation into Veterans' Care

As a result of revelations about problems with patient care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the largest Army hospitals in the nation are about to be put under the microscope.

Army officials will visit 11 hospital posts in seven states beginning this week. (The complete list follows this article.)

Over the next two weeks they will look closely at building conditions, outpatient care and information given to patients.

Many recuperating soldiers say it is about time.

"I get so stressed out, sometimes I think about taking my own life," said Sgt Lafi Acoa, who suffers from panic attacks after his tour of duty in Iraq.

Sgt. Charles Hunt is a husband and father of two boys, ages 3 and 5. He lost most of the left side of his brain in an IED explosion in Baghdad last February. He received top-notch crisis care, but his follow up has been more challenging.

He said the staff at Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center in Ft. Hood, Texas, is overwhelmed.

"There is only one neuro-psychologist on camp, and he is starting to get swamped," Hunt said.

Hunt's wife Shea is one of tens of thousands of people who contacted ABC News after seeing Bob Woodruff's special on traumatic brain injury.

"He was having difficulty with speech just as you did," she wrote in an e-mail to Woodruff. "I had to fight the doctors … to address his head injury because they were focusing on his orthopedic injury which was very frustrating."

There may be some relief in sight. Former Sen. Bob Dole is promising changes. Dole and former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala have been appointed by President Bush to head the committee investigating the military's medical problems.

Dole told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" he plans to make changes.

"It seems to me that if the V.A. is not equipped and Department of Defense hospitals are not equipped to deal with these very complex, say, brain injuries, then they ought to go to some private hospital where they are equipped and where they've been doing it for 30, 40, 50 years," he said.

Dole said he and Shalala will look at all the facilities where soldiers and veterans get care, more than 1,500 in all.

His and other investigations were sparked by revelations of mice and mold in the rooms for outpatients at Walter Reed. Many veterans themselves said they are more concerned with onerous red tape and other bureaucratic difficulties they faced than they were with the living conditions.

Sgt. Acoa said he has often felt overwhelmed trying to navigate the medical system at Madigan Army Hospital in Lewis, Wash., one of the hospitals Army officials plan to visit.

Medical staff said they are addressing the concerns of Sgt. Acoa and other patients there. They have allowed journalists to tour their facility and they insist they do not share the problems of Walter Reed.

Although Democrats have described Walter Reed as "the tip of the iceberg," many of the hospitals to be checked over the next two weeks say they welcome the inspectors.

The 11 facilities to be inspected are:

      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.

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