Tuesday, March 06, 2007

American Military Hospital Scandal: Wake Up Call for Transformational Leadership

The words on the March 5, 2007 Newsweek magazine cover echo the sentiment throughout America, "Failing Our Wounded: Shattered in body and mind, too many veterans are facing poor health care and red tape."

This Newsweek edition focuses on the serious leadership deficiencies at Walter Reed Army Medical Center that resulted in deplorable conditions. It is full of heart wrenching photographs of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan who have lost limbs or eyes, suffer from depression, or have serious bone, muscle and burn injuries. Compounding the normal difficulties associated with recovery and rehabilitation is the loss of morale and intense discouragement due to the burdensome and insensitive bureaucracy that makes required treatments, benefits disbursement and backlogged cases a nightmare.

There is a crisis of leadership throughout America highlighted by public and private corruption, professional sports and faith based scandals as well as a lack of preparedness for natural disasters underscored by the Hurricane Katrina fiasco. Yet, the contemptuous failing of care for our wounded veterans, many of them teenagers and each of them members of the American family must be the final straw. It is time to ignite change that leads to a transformational leadership culture within our entire nation.

The United States Military has a proud legacy. The raising of the flag at Iwo Jima, the discipline of The Sentinels at the Tomb of the Unknowns, the character of the West Point Honor Code, and the sacrifices of many Americans who have served gallantly in World War II, the Korean Conflict, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. Our nation must rise up and once again embrace honor and commit to leadership hallmarked by courage, character, compassion and community.

In response to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center Scandal, the words of Abraham Lincoln must enter into the deepest recesses of our hearts:

"With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan — to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations."
Washington Post Photo Journal
Walter Reed Army Medical Center
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