• Exclusive Video: Army Vice Chief General Richard Cody
If you are a frequent viewer of the show — FOX News Live Weekend, 2 p.m. ET — you know I am a big supporter of our troops. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to embed, visit a number of Army, Navy and Air Force installations, and make several trips to Walter Reed Army Medical Center. I know many of the dedicated physicians, nurses and other specialists at the hospital, and have seen first-hand injured soldiers doing their rehab there, and I’ve witnessed the quality of care the institution provides.
With great concern, I watched the hearings on the deplorable conditions, particularly in Building 18, and heard about the “red tape” that troops and their families have to go through to get the care our all-volunteer military deserves. I listened, as too many in the upper tier of the military were not as aware of the conditions as they should have been, and I heard a number of those testifying at the Congressional hearings that things will change.
Army Vice Chief General Richard Cody has spent 34 years in the military, and has two sons on active duty with multiple tours in this conflict. He says his boys drive helicopters for a living — but these days he drives a desk, without losing touch with the sacrifice our troops are making overseas, to keep us safe at home. In fact, he developed the “Wounded Warrior Program,” and has always made it his priority that our soldiers get not only the training they need to deploy, but are looked after when they return home.
General Cody joined me exclusively this weekend to talk about his testimony before Congress last week, and the Army’s renewed commitment there will be less “red tape” and more action in caring for our soldiers.
THE EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW:
• Exclusive Video: Army Vice Chief General Richard Cody
Jamie: General, I know how important our soldiers are to you. And I know that you spend a lot of time with them, both at Walter Reed, on bases, and also, overseas. You've been to Iraq recently and visited with soldiers. How is the mission going and has the surge made a difference?
Gen Cody: Well, Jamie, thanks for asking about our soldiers, and as you know, we have no higher priority in the Army than taking care of our soldiers, especially this all-volunteer force that's been fighting this global war on terrorism for so long.
I just came back from Afghanistan and Iraq, and had an opportunity to see the first of our soldiers that are going in as part of this plus up — this five brigade plus up — and I will tell you when I met with the soldiers in the First Cavalry and 25th Infantry Division, down at company and battalion level, the morale is high and they believe they're making a difference, and they're very impressed with their Iraqi counterparts, and they know this is going to be a long struggle and they just want to have the opportunity to win this fight and be able to give the Iraqi people a safe and secure environment. So, I guess the long answer is they know it's an important mission and I was very, very impressed with their morale, their skills and how they understand the strategic importance of their role on the global war on terrorism to the freedom of America.
Jamie: I hear from a lot of retired military, especially in our Troop Shoutouts General, where we want to let our active duty military know how much we support them, that this military is more prepared than we've ever been before and we're over there fighting a fight there that's keeping us safe here at home, and when the soldiers get home now that we've heard about Walter Reed and some of the conditions, how assured can we be that we're giving them what they need.
Gen Cody: Jamie, as I said, it's the most important thing we do as Army leaders is take care of our soldiers and give them the right leadership and give them the right direction and care for them. And as you've said, our soldiers, this generation that has, since 9/11 said America in your time of need, said they have fought bravely and battled this enemy on the global war on terrorism, and when they're wounded and come back to the United States and get the best medical care in the country, our military medicine is the best. But they should not have to — after battling the enemy — battle a bureaucracy on what type of physical disabilities and what type of retirement benefits they get. And that's what we're tackling right now, we want to break through that bureaucracy and we want to give our soldiers especially our wounded soldiers every possible compensation for the sacrifices they have given to this country.
Jamie: You have two sons on active duty, and you visit a lot of soldiers, we saw some video of you at Walter Reed. How quickly can we expect changes at the hospital, and is this more of a bureaucracy situation and red tape than it is the actual staff at Walter Reed, who must be watching this, and saying what about the good work we do?
Gen Cody: Thanks for letting me talk about that. First, our medical professionals at Walter Reed and all our 17 hospitals throughout the continental United States are staffed with some tremendously talented and dedicated military professionals and civilian professionals. And specifically, at Walter Reed, some of our medical staff have just come back from Iraq, where they spent 12 months in the combat hospitals, taking care of the first magic hour of these soldiers, and then redeploy back and move right into a hospital to continue that care. So they don't get the reset, the pace on our medical professionals, has not let up. And they are the best in the world and my message to them is keep doing what you're doing, our soldiers and our leaders know that you provide the best medical care and now the bureaucracy is another issue.
Jamie: Will that change, General? Will we be able to cut the red tape so that families of the wounded, I know you started the Wounded Warrior program, this is your baby, will things change?
Gen Cody: It will change and we are having a national dialog about it, Jamie and I'm confident working with the Veteran’s Administration, working with Congress and our partners in the office of the Secretary of Defense. We're committed to cutting through this red tape.
Jamie: All right, General Richard Cody, Vice Chief of our Army, we wanted to get it straight from the source. Thank you so much, sir.
Gen Cody:Thank you, Jamie.
We will have General Cody back as the investigation into military hospital and outpatient care continues so he can update us on whether the progress promised is being made.
• For more on General Cody, click over.
• Keep your Troop Shoutouts coming to Jamie@foxnews.com
Jamie Colby joined FOX News Channel (FNC) in July 2003 and currently serves as a news correspondent and anchor of "FOX News Live," Sat.- Sun 2 -3 p.m. ET. She anchored coverage of the passing of Pope John Paul II and the election of Pope Benedict XVI from Rome. You can read her complete bio here.