Washington, DC – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) released the following statement after today’s Full Committee hearing on the challenges and obstacles wounded and injured service members face during recovery.  The House Armed Services Committee received testimony from: Dr. David Chu, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness; Dr. William Winkenwerder, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs; General Peter Schoomaker, Chief of Staff of the United States Army; and General Kevin Kiley, the Army Surgeon General. 

            “Today’s House Armed Services Committee hearing comes at the end of a week of Congressional oversight on the problems identified at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the difficulties faced by service members and their families as they try to navigate the military health care system and the complex disability process.  Substandard living conditions and endless red tape should never have been the norm, and it is particularly upsetting to know that such obstacles confront service members and their families at a time when they are at their most vulnerable.

What happened at Walter Reed is greater than just leadership failure in the Army.  It is symptomatic of the extensive and complex factors that affect military medicine and, ultimately, our injured and wounded service members and their families.  In recent years, this Committee has identified and sought to remedy a number of these problems, particularly with regard to those in medical hold status, but more must be done.  It is clear that continued and persistent challenges require closer inspection and may demand significant and comprehensive overhaul of the process. 

In the coming days, the House Armed Services Committee will take up legislation to deal with the next steps in addressing problems that can be fixed without delay.  Over the longer term, the Committee will also take a close look at correcting the administrative, health care delivery, and civilian transition issues that must be improved to give our nation’s service members the high standard of care they deserve.  It is my hope that we will be able to act swiftly enough to include reforms in this year’s National Defense Authorization bill.”