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Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas

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VFW Commends VA for Thorough Facility Inspection

March 22, 2007

WASHINGTON, March 22, 2007 - The Department of Veterans Affairs released a facility inspection report yesterday that should reassure America’s veterans that the poor maintenance conditions uncovered in one building at nearby Walter Reed Army Medical Center are not rampant problems inside the VA’s 1,400 clinics and hospitals.

Approximately 90 percent of 1,100 identified problems can be attributed to normal wear and tear, such as worn carpets and the need for fresh paint, wall repair and ceiling tile replacement. The report deemed 10 percent of the problems as more serious, such as water leaks, mold, and in one case, bats that have access to the interior space of a building.

“The VA should be commended for acting swiftly and for the thoroughness of their inspection,” said Gary Kurpius, the commander-in-chief of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. “Everything that was identified can be immediately fixed, and a more aggressive maintenance program will help ensure that the small things don’t become larger problems in the future.”

The VA inspection came in the aftermath of the disclosure of substandard living conditions inside an off-installation building that Walter Reed used to house wounded outpatients. The public uproar forced the VA and the Department of Defense to ensure that every government medical facility meets established health and safety standards. DOD has yet to publish the results of their inspection.

Kurpius said the VA has been lauded in independent studies and surveys as the nation’s best healthcare provider, public or private. He is now calling upon his nationwide network of VFW volunteers and service officers to ensure that the VA stays at that high level of service. He wants his members to work with local staff to ensure that the identified problems are corrected, and that new problems are quickly addressed.

“There are hundreds of thousands of dedicated military and civilians employees within our VA and DOD healthcare systems who perform miracles every day of the week,” said Kurpius. “What occurred at Walter Reed was an isolated incident. Now the nation must refocus its attention back on supporting our troops and to not allow the good name of Walter Reed — or the VA and DOD healthcare systems — to become synonymous with anything other than hope and healing.”