Army surgeon general forced to retire
By PAULINE JELINEK, Associated Press Writer 14 minutes
WASHINGTON - The Army forced its surgeon general, Lt.
Gen. Kevin C. Kiley, to retire, officials said Monday,
the third high-level official to lose his job over
poor outpatient treatment of wounded soldiers at
Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
Kiley, who headed Walter Reed from 2002 to 2004, has
been a lightning rod for criticism over conditions at
the Army's premier medical facility, including during
congressional hearings last week. Soldiers and their
families have complained about substandard living
conditions and bureaucratic delays at the hospital
overwhelmed with wounded from the wars in Iraq and
Kiley submitted his retirement request on Sunday, the
Army said in a statement.
"We must move quickly to fill this position this
leader will have a key role in moving the way forward
in meeting the needs of our wounded warriors," Acting
Secretary of the Army Pete Geren said in an Army
Geren asked Kiley to retire, said a senior defense
official speaking on condition of anonymity because he
was not authorized to speak on the record. Defense
Secretary Robert Gates was not involved in the
decision to ask Kiley to retire, the official said.
Kiley's removal underscored how the fallout over
Walter Reed's shoddy conditions has yet to subside.
Instead, the controversy has mushroomed into questions
about how wounded soldiers and veterans are treated
throughout the medical systems run by the military and
Department of Veterans Affairs and has become a major
preoccupation of a Bush administration already
struggling to defend the unpopular war in Iraq.
"I submitted my retirement because I think it is in
the best interest of the Army," Kiley said in Monday's
Army statement. He said he wanted to allow officials
to "focus completely on the way ahead."
The conditions at Walter Reed were detailed last month
by The Washington Post. Since then, Gates has forced
Army Secretary Francis Harvey to resign and Maj. Gen.
George W. Weightman, who was in charge of Walter Reed
since August 2006, was ousted from his post.
A number of investigations have been ordered.
President Bush appointed a bipartisan commission to
investigate problems at the nation's military and
veteran hospitals, and separate reviews are under way
by the Pentagon, the Army and an interagency task
force led by Nicholson.
In a briefing Thursday for reporters at the medical
center, top Army officials said they have moved to fix
some of the problems at Walter Reed.
Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Richard Cody said that
officials have added caseworkers, financial
specialists and others to work with soldiers' families
on problems they have related to the injuries such as
getting loans or help with income taxes.