Source AP ©

Bush to pay visit to Walter Reed Army Medical Center

The news of their neglect led to outrage in Congress, resignations at the Pentagon and promises of better treatment from the Bush administration. Now the veterans at Walter Reed Army Medical Center will hear from President George W. Bush himself.

Bush tours the campus Friday for the first time since reports surfaced of shabby conditions for veterans in outpatient housing.

He will meet with soldiers once housed in Building 18, who endured moldy walls, rodent infestation and other problems that went unchecked until reported by the media. Bush declared the situation unacceptable, and ordered a full-scale review of care for veterans.

Walter Reed is considered the Army's premier facility for treating the wounded. The revelations of shoddy treatment for those wounded in war was an embarrassment to Bush, who routinely speaks of the need to support the troops.

Bush is touring both Abrams Hall, where soldiers transferred after Building 18 was recently vacated, and the main hospital.

He will award prestigious purple heart medals to several soldiers who served in Afghanistan and Iraq and are now recovering from serious wounds.

In a speech to medical workers, Bush will explain what his administration is doing to improve care for veterans at facilities nationwide.

Bush has appointed a presidential commission to study the problems, and a slew of reviews are under way by the Pentagon, Veterans Affairs and Congress. But troops and veterans say many of the issues are well known and have long been in need of response.

Since the disclosures last month, three high-level Pentagon officials have been forced to step down.

This week, the House of Representatives voted to create a coterie of case managers, advocates and counselors for injured troops. The bill also establishes a hot line for medical patients to report problems in their treatment.

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