I made the mistake this evening of curling up with J.R. to watch Law and Order SVU on the bed. It was a matter of minutes before I was drooling on his shoulder. I woke up at nine to an empty room. I wasn't really sure where J.R. had disappeared to, but I figured he was probably off buying 300 since he has been dieing to watch it and counting down the days to its release. He returned half an hour later with 300 in hand.
I wasn't really in the mood to watch yet another movie so I curled up with the last Harry Potter book (which I don't think I will ever finish due to constant interruptions every time I pick the book up) and made an attempt to block out the tv. It wasn't long until the movie was over and J.R. was yelling at me to clean off the bed so he could go to sleep. A little confused as to why he would be coming to bed so early I questioned him. Apparently he now has Wednesday morning formations.
When we first arrived at Walter Reed outpatient soldiers were expected to be at formation every morning for accountability. After the scandal they were cut down to only Monday and Friday mornings. The wounded soldiers are even now allowed to sit in formation instead of stand. For the majority of the soldiers being treated here, it is not much to ask to stand in a morning formation, or even just to show up for one. But for soldiers more severly injured the task is a bit more challenging. Getting out the door in the morning isn't as easy as it use to be. It takes time to put on a prosthetic, tie shoes, and get dressed. Having a morning formation three days a week just adds to the frustration of living here.
I understand the military has to have accountability of the men and women on post. I also understand that it's hard to find a line between patient and soldier. However, there has to be a better way to track all of your soldiers on post. Why not have little "time clocks" located around post where a soldier can log in to show they are still alive and on post. Every room on post has a computer in it. Is it not possible to create some program where soldiers can log in from their room for accountability. If there is important information that needs to be put out for all of the soldiers, why not just load it into the program. That way any soldier with a memory problem would have a visual that they could look at at any point during the day. I'm sure that idea would be turned down due to funding. Well that and it would take to much energy for anyone on this post to even begin to create it.
I know we are out of here in a short period of time. And J.R. no longer minds waking up to go to formation. He has had enough time to adjust to his new normal that it's not a big deal. But for the freshly injured guys it is. I worry that by adding this Wednesday formation Walter Reed is slowly sinking back into old habits. The scandal has already happened and it's old news. What will happen a year from now when the cameras have all left and this isn't a headline story? What happens when the public forgets? This facility is still overcrowded, under staffed, and stressed beyond it's means. Yes, there have been improvements. There are still many more needed.