Thank you, Judge Carter. Thank you for an opportunity to make some comments on this important issue.
It has taken less than a week for the American public and this Congress to find out what was taking place at Walter Reed Hospital. It is one of the premier hospitals in the world for treating the injured. But yet there were some problems and those problems, rather than being overlooked, are being dealt with, and that is very, very good.
A couple of observations that I would like to make about this whole episode. As you mentioned, Judge Carter, American troops if they are found after an injury within a few minutes, the likelihood of their survival is in the 90 percent range. That is a tremendous percentage of recovery for these individuals to live if they are wounded. And they live from wounds that just years ago, even back in Vietnam days, they would have died from. But because of medical science, expanding as it has, they will recover from those wounds, although they will have, many of them, lifetime recovery periods. And that is where we must make sure that we take care of our military, that the recovery for many of these individuals is going to be a long, long time. Sometimes the rest of their lives.
An observation I would like to make about this situation at Walter Reed is that the American public expects us to take care of our soldiers. I think this is good. I think it is good that the American public is upset about the fact that some of our troops are not being taken care of the way they should be because our people in this Nation, regardless of how they feel about Iraq or Afghanistan, the issue of taking care of the wounded is not a political issue. It is an American issue, and Americans expect the best care for our troops. And that is important that the American public support our military in the recovery process.
To try to illustrate how the American public supports our wounded warriors, I had the opportunity to go to Landstuhl Military Base in Germany where wounded Americans come from Afghanistan and Iraq, many of them with severe injuries, and they are treated there before they are even brought back to the United States because of the critical care facilities they have at Landstuhl.
And when I found out I was going to be able to go over for this short trip with about 3 days' notice, I notified my two district directors in Texas to see if we could get some kids from local schools to make some cards to take over and give to the wounded. They met me at the airport with two suitcases full of handmade cards from third, fourth, and fifth graders of the Second Congressional District of Texas, and a little over 6,000 cards. I checked one of the suitcases. The smaller one I took on the plane with me, and I started reading them as I was flying over. The person next to me wanted to know what I was doing and I told him. And so he wanted to see them. He started reading the cards. Next thing I knew, the whole plane was reading. The cards were going up and down the aisle, and there were a few tears in the background.
But the point being that the American public supports our military, supports our military even when they are wounded, and cares a great deal about them, to the tune of 6,000 handmade cards from a bunch of kids in Texas. Of course the troops were very grateful for those cards. But it is a sign and observation that the American public will always support our troops when they are wounded and expect us in the Congress to make sure they have the care that they deserve.
The President acted very decisively and quickly, and I congratulate him for that because when things go bad at a hospital like it did at Walter Reed, the person in charge of the hospital needs to be removed. They need to get somebody over there that will take care of business and make sure that we don't have problems with our military.
How we treat our warriors in aftercare really defines us as who we are as a Nation.
One other comment I would like to make is it goes back to something that is tradition with our United States military, has been for a long time through many wars. The American fighting man always has the role, the obligation, the duty to never leave anyone behind on the battlefield. People in other cultures do not understand why Americans are so relentless in making sure we take care of not only our wounded but those that have fallen on the battlefield. They don't understand why we do that. We do that because we are Americans.
One way that we leave no one behind is to make sure we don't leave them behind in the hospitals, we don't leave them behind in aftercare. We take care of them for as long as necessary, and if it means taking care of them the rest of their lives, so be it, because that is what we do in this country: we leave no one behind.
So I commend you, Judge Carter, for this Special Order and bringing awareness of this whole plight of hospital care and the care of our warriors to the American public.