Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD) requested a “full and thorough” report on the status of Department of Defense (DOD) medical facilities located in Maryland following his visit to Fort Meade in Anne Arundel County on March 19. In a letter to Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, Sen. Cardin expressed concern about whether DOD medical facilities in Maryland are adequately prepared and funded to care for wounded soldiers returning from service in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Unfortunately, more and more American troops are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with serious injuries,” said Sen. Cardin. “In the weeks since the disgraceful reports from Walter Reed surfaced, we've learned of more stories about the poor quality of care some of our wounded troops are receiving. Needless to say, our troops deserve better. Maryland is home to several key medical facilities caring for our wounded troops, such as the Bethesda Naval Medical Center. I want to ensure that wounded troops who are brought home to Maryland receive the first class care they deserve.”
Due to insufficient resources at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC, some wounded soldiers are currently housed at Fort Meade but must travel to Walter Reed to receive certain medical treatments. Many of the troops Sen. Cardin met during his recent visit told him that they would like to receive more of their treatment at the Kimbrough Ambulatory Care Center at Fort Meade, which currently provides only basic care to wounded soldiers. Sen. Cardin wants to make resources available to expand capacity and treatment capability at Kimbrough so it can meet the medical needs of soldiers returning Iraq and Afghanistan that are housed on Fort Meade.
On March 23, the following letter was sent to Sec. Gates:
March 23, 2007
The Honorable Robert M. Gates
Secretary of Defense
Department of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, D.C. 20301-1000
Dear Secretary Gates:
I am writing to request a full and thorough report on the status of Department of Defense (DoD) medical facilities in Maryland and their capacity to accommodate the needs of wounded and ailing soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
On a recent visit to Fort Meade, I learned that wounded soldiers currently being housed at Fort Meade must travel to Walter Reed for physical therapy appointments that could be handled at Kimbrough Ambulatory Care Center if it simply had more medical staff. These soldiers were pleased with conditions at Kimbrough and would prefer to receive therapy there. Given these soldiers' reasonable and common sense preferences, reports regarding conditions at the U.S. Army's Walter Reed Hospital, the growing numbers of soldiers being deployed overseas, and the increasing numbers of soldiers moving to Maryland as a result of the 2005 BRAC round, I want to be sure Maryland's DoD hospitals and clinics have the facilities, equipment, medical staff, and other personnel they need to provide our soldiers the care they deserve.
The report should include a detailed analysis of Maryland's DoD medical facilities' ability to meet demands for services, any outstanding needs, plans to address any identified problems, and any analysis the Department has conducted to assess how DoD facilities must evolve to accommodate shifting and growing patient populations. I ask that report be provided to my office in time to be of use in this year's appropriations process. Should you have any questions or concerns regarding my request, please feel free to contact me our have your staff contact my Military Legislative Counsel, Sarah Greenberger.
Your attention and assistance in this matter are greatly appreciated and I look forward to hearing from you.
Benjamin L. Cardin
United States Senator