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Bush Visits Wounded Troops


President Bush visited wounded troops at the U.S. Defense Department's premier rehabilitation center for amputees. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, Mr. Bush says the government is improving the quality of military care.

President Bush met with recovering military personnel at the Brooke Army Hospital in San Antonio, Texas. "Someone wounded in the defense of America needs all the help he or she can get. The servicemen and women here have borne the burdens of battle. They have kept our country safe. We honor them and their families by helping them with all we can," he said.

Earlier this year, an investigation by the Washington Post newspaper brought to light poor living conditions for some patients at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center outside Washington, D.C.

The newspaper found recuperating soldiers living in a run-down building infested with mice, mold, and cockroaches. It also revealed long delays in scheduling follow-up procedures for some outpatients.

The scandal over conditions for some of the troops wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan led to the removal of the general in charge of Walter Reed and the appointment of a commission to improve military health care led by former Senator Bob Dole and former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala.

White House officials say the executive branch is making progress on the recommendations put forward by that commission. President Bush says an outdated system can confuse recovering soldiers in a maze of bureaucracy.

"There were serious problems caused by bureaucratic delays and administrative failures. And that is unacceptable. It is unacceptable to me as Commander-in-Chief. It is unacceptable to the families of those who deserve the best care. And it is unacceptable to the American people," he said.

In San Antonio, the president met with amputees exercising in a swimming pool that makes its own waves and spoke with wounded veterans using an indoor climbing wall.

Mr. Bush spends the night at his Texas ranch where he will be joined Friday and Saturday by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. White House Spokeswoman Dana Perino says the two leaders are expected to discuss Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Middle East peace, climate change and Syria's involvement in Lebanon.

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