Top Army Doc Quits Post Amid Reed Scandal

Army Surgeon General Kevin Kiley has abruptly stepped down, requesting retirement. He is the third top Army official to depart amid fallout over the way wounded soldiers were treated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

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Another top official has resigned over criticism of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Surgeon General Kevin Kiley says the move is in the best interest of the U.S. Army. A senior defense official said the Army asked Kiley to resign.

The hospital faces criticism and investigations for confronting wounded veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan with substandard treatment and bureaucratic delays.

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Army's Top Doctor Steps Down Amid Hospital Crisis

Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley, surgeon general of the Army, holds a news conference.

hide captionLt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley, seen here after leading reporters on a tour of outpatient housing at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, first commanded the post from 2002 to 2004.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley, the Army's top medical officer, abruptly submitted a request to retire this weekend. Gen. Kiley's exit appears to have come under pressure from his supervisors; Pentagon officials tell NPR that Kiley was fired.

Kiley is the latest senior Army official to quit in the wake of the scandal over poor outpatient care for wounded combat soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Conditions ranging from an overload of paperwork to facilities sitting in disrepair were exposed in a series of Washington Post articles last month.

In a statement announcing his resignation, Kiley said, "We are an Army medical department at war, supporting an army at war. It shouldn't be — and it isn't — about one doctor."

Kiley will be replaced by his deputy, Maj. Gen. Gale Pollock.

The Army's civilian secretary, Francis Harvey, has already resigned. So has the commander of Walter Reed, Maj. Gen. George Weightman.

Now, the Army's entire medical system is under intense scrutiny.

Many troops recovering at Walter Reed blamed Gen. Kiley for the poor conditions. In addition to being the top Army doctor, Kiley headed the hospital until 2004. Several former Army officials said that Kiley knew about the problems at Walter Reed.

Last year, an NPR investigation found that recently returned combat soldiers at Fort Carson, Colo., who were suffering from psychological trauma weren't getting the care they needed. And in some cases, the soldiers were punished by their commanders.

When NPR's Daniel Zwerdling asked Kiley about Fort Carson, the general replied, "There's no post more attuned to issues of mental health and getting help for soldiers."

Last week, Kiley sat stone-faced in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee as Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) read aloud a letter she got from a Walter Reed outpatient.

"We, as injured veterans, and those family members who depend on military medical facilities," the letter read, "deserve nothing less than the resignation of General Kiley."

Earlier today at Walter Reed, Pete Geren, the Army's acting secretary, promised a streamlined process that will allow wounded soldiers to get the care they need more quickly.

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