The Bush administration has ordered a review of the care of wounded U.S. troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, after reports of neglect at an Army medical center in Washington.
Reports in the Washington Post newspaper detailed substandard housing at one part of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, known as "Building 18." Soldiers showed reporters that some of the rooms in the building have mold on the walls, soiled carpets, and mice and cockroach infestations. The newspaper also reported that many of the soldiers and veterans at Walter Reed face long battles with Army bureacracy to schedule medical appointments and to receive financial assistance.
Top Army officials visited Building 18 on Tuesday. Vice Chief of Staff General Richard Cody told reporters Wednesday that conditions there are "inexcusable" and that there had been "a breakdown in leadership." He said he will take responsibility and correct any problems immediately.
A number of Democratic lawmakers are demanding a thorough investigation into conditions at the medical center. Several senators, including presidential candidate Barack Obama, say they will introduce legislation to improve the quality of care and to simplify the paperwork process for recovering soldiers.
The Pentagon has said an independent panel will look into outpatient care and administrative processes at Walter Reed and the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.