Commander of Walter Reed fired

March 1, 2007 at 3:02 PM

WASHINGTON, March 1 (UPI) -- The commander of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington was fired Thursday amid reports of deplorable conditions for outpatients.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said he supports Secretary of the Army Fran Harvey's decision to relieve Maj. Gen. George Weightman, who assumed command at the medical center last summer, of duty at the facility.

"The care and welfare of our wounded men and women in uniform demand the highest standard of excellence and commitment that we can muster as a government," Gates said in a statement. "When this standard is not met, I will insist on swift and direct corrective action and, where appropriate, accountability up the chain of command."

Also Thursday, The Washington Post reported that officials had been alerted at least as early as 2003 to conditions for outpatients at the hospital.

The Post, which ran a series describing how some patients are living with mice, mold and cockroaches, reported that soldiers and their families said Army commanders had ignored their complaints. Even a congressman said his complaints were ignored, the newspaper reported. U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Fla., told the Post he and his wife stopped visiting the hospital because of the conditions.

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