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American Forces Press Service

Leaders Have Restored Trust at Walter Reed, Official Says

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 21, 2007 – Since taking command of the Army’s premier medical center, Army Maj. Gen. Eric B. Schoomaker has restored the trust of patients and energized staff members, the Defense Department’s top health official said today.

Schoomaker took command of Walter Reed Army Medical Center here early this year in the wake of revelations of poor outpatient treatment for wounded servicemembers and veterans.

In an open letter to Schoomaker, Dr. S. Ward Casscells, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, praised the general for his leadership and said his successes prove that the Army medical system is ready any time and anywhere.

“The Military Health System prides itself on continuous improvement and encouraging employee creativity,” Casscells wrote. “When the problems in outpatient care for wounded, ill, and injured servicemembers surfaced, you accelerated improvements that had been in planning since 2006.”

Casscells wrote the letter after visiting with patients and staff at Walter Reed. In the letter, he lauded Schoomaker for his quick actions in increasing the number of case managers for injured troops, improving quality-of-life initiatives, and creating a Warrior Transition Brigade to ensure the needs of wounded troops and their families are met.

“General, with your quick actions you have already turned the corner and improved the lives of servicemembers who are in transition back to duty,” he wrote.

Casscells also noted that Schoomaker streamlined processes for case managers and physical evaluation board liaison officers, and developed realistic measures of success for the staff. He expressed confidence that the surveys and telephone hotlines now in place for patients and families at Walter Reed will continue to improve processes there.

“On behalf of (the Department of Defense), I thank you for your hard work, innovation, and willingness to listen to the families, nurses, and case managers who took chances and insisted on excellence,” Casscells wrote. “Thank you for keeping our warfighters ready, for life.”

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