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Ex-Walter Reed Chief to Command Biodefense Research


The U.S. Army said yesterday it has reassigned the general fired from his leadership post at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center to supervise biological defense research at Fort Detrick in Maryland, the Associated Press reported (see GSN, Jan. 23).

Maj. Gen. George Weightman lost his job as head of the Army’s top hospital March 1 following a series of Washington Post reports that uncovered widespread neglect of wounded U.S. soldiers at the Washington, D.C. facility.

During Weightman’s six-month tenure at Walter Reed, families of wounded personnel said they grew increasingly frustrated with the hospital’s unresponsive administration as soldiers suffered inside deteriorating buildings.

The Army said earlier this year that top officials “had lost trust and confidence” in Weightman’s leadership following the revelations of neglect.

However, Army spokesman Paul Boyce said that senior Army officials reconsidered their judgment of the two-star general when they examined his attempts to improve care for soldiers, veterans and families at Walter Reed and at the Army surgeon general’s office in Falls Church, Va., where he currently works as a physician.
Weightman is expected before the end of November to take charge of Fort Detrick and of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, which operates at the Frederick, Md., installation.

It was a widespread assumption that being fired from Walter Reed would bar Weightman from assuming another high-level post, said Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of Iran and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

“The way Walter Reed turned out should be a career killer,” he said. “If Weightman's getting a second chance here, I think the Army needs to explain why the turnaround happened” (David Dishneau, Associated Press/International Herald Tribune, Nov. 14).