Wes Hickman (202-224-5972) or Kevin Bishop (864-250-1417)
- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today attended a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on medical care provided to veterans at Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital.
"The hearing shed light on what happened with Building 18 at Walter Reed and the state of DoD and VA health care," said Graham. "Repairs were made to the building in 2005 but the real problems were not fixed. There is no doubt the soldiers who served our nation and went to Walter Reed for treatment deserve better.
"We are going to fix the problem at Walter Reed," said Graham. "We are also going to make it easier for people who have been injured in battle or have service-related injuries to get the medical treatment they have earned."
Graham said he hopes this current episode will bring into focus the need for the federal government to increase defense spending to combat the rising challenges - both on the battlefield and in support services - necessary to fight and win the War on Terror.
"We are in a state of war which could last a generation," said Graham. "The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have gone on longer than anticipated and the injuries sustained on the battlefield have been higher than expected. Our military health care system is running out of capacity.
"Hopefully, this will convince the Congress we cannot successfully prosecute the war and care for our wounded soldiers spending just 3.8 percent of our GDP (Gross Domestic Product) on defense," said Graham. "The historical average is 5 percent. In World War II, we spent one-third of our GDP on the war effort.
"We need more money, capacity, and bed space on the medical side," said Graham. "We need more troops, better benefits for our soldiers, and equipment on the war-fighting side. Commanders have to do a better job of being accountable and we in the Congress need to do a better job of ensuring the military has adequate resources to carry out all of its duties."
Graham also noted that the recent episode is not an indictment of all health care provided to members of the military and veterans of our nation.
"The care we are giving our soldiers on the battlefield is second to none," said Graham. "We are saving the lives of people who in previous wars would have died. Many of our health care professionals are doing a very good job during difficult times. We need to give them the resources they need to do their jobs and continue to reward those who are providing excellent health care to those in the military."