Congressman Walz Returns From Overseas Trip Investigating Military Healthcare

Congressman Tim Walz

January 16, 2008 – Congressman Tim Walz returned yesterday from a nine-day Congressional delegation trip to Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Germany during which he investigated the continuum of military health care.  Walz, who served 24 years with the Army National Guard before being elected to Congress, was able to accompany wounded soldiers as they moved from the battlefield to field hospitals to major military medical facilities in Germany.

“The new Congress has a mandate to change and improve the way our government works,” said Walz.  “I went to the Middle East last week to find out how we can continue to improve the health care soldiers receive, from the time they’re injured on the battlefield until they conclude their recovery at a major military medical facility.  It is clear to me that we have great medical professionals and incredibly brave soldiers, but what we don’t have is a streamlined medical records system.  I am committed to changing this.”

On the fact-finding trip, Walz discovered that while the military is making progress in digitizing medical records, but the databases used to store the records are cumbersome and complex.  “I met a surgeon who had three computers open and was searching seven databases for one soldier’s medical records.  All of that soldier’s records should be in one place, in one electronic file with his name on it.  This is an area where the military needs to make progress and the Congress is going to insist that they make the changes necessary to improve medical care for our soldiers.”

“The military does an excellent job treating many of the battlefield wounds of today’s soldiers.  Because many battlefield wounds may require treatment for a long period, we have to make sure that soldiers’ medical records stay intact so they can receive the best treatment possible.  That’s why my trip focused on how to ensure their medical records follow these wounded warriors all the way through their treatment.”

“Digital medical records are important because they help soldiers and veterans document their war time experiences.  These new records are documenting bomb blasts and other incidents that don’t necessarily cause physical trauma to every soldier at the time.  Down the road, when soldiers develop PTSD and other mental conditions as a result of these incidents, they won’t be forced to unnecessary reconstruct for the Department of Veterans Affairs what they went through on the battlefield,” said Walz.  “

Walz also arrived in Afghanistan alongside one of the first Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles deployed to the area.  “MRAP vehicles are something this Congress put a rush on because they’re critical to military medical care.  These MRAP vehicles will be used as ambulances in combat zones to ensure our injured soldiers reach medical facilities safely.”

Walz traveled with two of his colleagues, including the Chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. 

The trip’s itinerary follows:


Rep. Harry Mitchell
Rep. Tim Walz
Rep. Charles Dent
LTG Eric Schoomaker, Army Surgeon General

Sunday, 6 January 2008
Depart Washington DC

Monday, 7 January 2008
Travel day

Tuesday, 8 January 2008
Arrive Islamabad, Pakistan
Meeting with Lt. Gen. Khalid Ahmed Kidwai (R), Director General of Pakistan’s Strategic Plan Division (in charge of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program, including security)
Lunch at US Embassy with Deputy Chief of Mission, Economics Officer, Political Officer, Military Liaison Officer, AID representatives
Meeting with Minister of Religious Affairs

Wednesday, 9 January 2008
Depart Islamabad, Pakistan
Traveled to Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan
Briefing on current military, political, and economic situation in Afghanistan by MG David Rodriguez
Lunch with Minnesota soldiers
Medical training demonstration using training simulator; observed medevac training
Humvee rollover training
Meeting with Provincial Reconstruction Team
Participation in Fallen Comrade ceremony
Overnight at Bagram

Thursday, 10 January 2008
Bagram Airforce Base
Demonstration of MRAP ambulance
Tour of Bagram Airfield hospital & medical briefing
State Department briefing
Depart Bagram, Afghanistan
Arrive Islamabad, Pakistan

Friday, 11 January 2008
Depart Islamabad, Pakistan
Arrive Kuwait
Review of transportation operations and vehicles; system and vehicles used to transport supplies into Iraq explained by transport battalion soldiers and officers
Briefing on logistics operation based at Camp Arifjan
Briefing on electronic medical data flow by Medical CIO for the CENTCOM Command Surgeon

Saturday, 12 January 2008
Depart Kuwait
Arrive Baghdad International Airport (BIAP), Iraq
Briefing on and tour of detainee medical facility
Briefing by the Commander and staff of the Task Force 62d Medical Brigade
Briefing by Multi-National Force/Corps-Iraq Surgeon and staff
Flight via Blackhawk to Balad Air Force Theater Hospital and tour
Meeting with Combat Stress Team
Tour of Battalion Aid Station
Overnight in Baghdad due to inclement weather

Sunday, 13 January 2008
Travel on ground to Green Zone via Route Irish
Briefing by General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker
Depart BIAP, Iraq
Arrive  Kuwait

Monday, 14 January 2008
Depart Kuwait
Arrive Frankfurt Germany
Tour of Ramstein Air Force Base
Briefing on and tour of Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility (“CASF”) at Ramstein
Briefing by Commander and staff or Landstuhl Regional Medical Center
Tour of Warrior Transition Unit

Tuesday, 15 January 2008
Depart Frankfurt Germany 1514        
Arrive Washington DC

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