13 March 2007

Where have you been?

Since the Walter Reed scandal broke, I've had more than a few people ask for my thoughts on the facilities at Landstuhl. As a volunteer and outsider with no military or medical experience I don't feel particularly qualified to give an opinion. But I do have eyes and ears, and I've met more than a few patients over the last couple of years. So here goes.

Q. Do the soldiers complain about bureacracy, morning formation, and the like?
A. Yes. I've learned that soldiers always complain about stuff like that. Are their complaints justified? Yes, sometimes they are.

But the fact is, the facilities at Landstuhl are transitional facilities. An outpatient's average stay here is 10 days. Not enough time for the shameful incidents uncovered at Walter Reed to occur. Overall, patients give the Landstuhl inpatient and outpatient facilities high marks, as seen in this recent article in Stars & Stripes.

Q. Have you noticed any recent changes at Landstuhl?
A. Yeah. The Congresscritters and brass who have suddenly descended like a swarm of locusts.

I know it'll sound snarky, but I can't help thinking, "Great to see you... but where have you been?"

If you're not familiar with these types of visits, let me fill you in. Ever heard the expression Dog and Pony Show? Familiar with the term "Entourage"? You get the picture.

Where have they been all this time?

I don't know the answer to that question, but I can tell you about a few people who have always been here.

I'm usually around on the weekend. When things are quiet. When the only people at the hospital and the MedHold are those who are working and those who want to be there.

I don't think I've ever been to the hospital over the weekend without seeing Colonel Gamble, the Commander. He's there when the new patients are unloaded from the buses, he's in the halls, he's on the wards. I guess he works 7 days a week.

There's an Air Force General out of Ramstein whom I've seen numerous times at the hospital on Sundays with boxes of donuts. Alone. He goes into every room, talks to every patient, gives each and every one of them his coin. It's obviously his day off. He doesn't have to be there, he wants to be there.

The Commander of the MedHold at Kleber barracks, Captain Arnold, is there at least one day over the weekend. And I've run into her boss, Lt Col Boone, at all hours of the days and night. Like 2300 on a Saturday night. "Just stopping by... ", he always says.

There are many others, of course. Military and non-Military. The lady who volunteers at the crafts room at Kleber. The volunteer staff of the Chaplain's office who put in countless hours. Sue Timkin, the Ambassador's wife. The Red Cross volunteers - including their Red Cross dogs. The USO... the VFW...

And you, dear readers of this blog, the Soldiers' Angels, the MilBloggers, AnySoldier supporters, the Marine Corps Moms, and all the others who have been standing with our guys. You've been there, too.

Where's everybody else been? Where've they been?

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