Anti-War Protests Target Wounded at Walter Reed Hospital

Anti-War Protests Target Wounded at Army Hospital (Cybercast News Service)

The Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., the current home of hundreds of wounded veterans from the war in Iraq, has been the target of weekly anti-war demonstrations since March. The protesters hold signs that read “Maimed for Lies” and “Enlist here and die for Halliburton.”

The anti-war demonstrators, who obtain their protest permits from the Washington, D.C., police department, position themselves directly in front of the main entrance to the Army Medical Center, which is located in northwest D.C., about five miles from the White House.

Among the props used by the protesters are mock caskets, lined up on the sidewalk to represent the death toll in Iraq. Code Pink Women for Peace, one of the groups backing anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan’s vigil outside President Bush’s ranch in Crawford Texas, organizes the protests at Walter Reed as well.

Oliver Willis believes this to be “another exercise in lies from CNSNews” and argues,

In fact, the protestors are quite clearly demonstrating their support of the troops and their disdain for what the Iraq war has done to the soldiers. This won̢۪t matter to the cons who trumpet this sort of thing, they don̢۪t care about the facts as long as they can smear and move on to the next thing.

Personally, I’d like to see reporting on this from a more reliable source than CNS. Still, it’s hard to view demonstrating in front of wounded vets as anything other than tacky. As Mark in Mexico observes,

The anti-war group is most visible on Friday evenings which is the most popular time for families to visit their wounded at the hospital. . . . Imagine a family that has to pass a line of coffins everytime they arrive to visit a badly wounded son or daughter who is hanging on to life inside the hospital.

People have a right to demonstrate and Walter Reed is a government institution. Still, it’s unseemly. The quarrel is with the Bush Administration and Congress, not the wounded veterans who were ordered to war.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Anderson says:

    Yeah, if you’re going to stage your show outside Walter Reed, something more tasteful is called for: lining up on the sidewalk with lit candles, or somesuch.

    But of course, most of these protests are for the satisfaction of the protesters, not for any actual good result.

  2. The porcine Mr. Willis must have just read the headline and then written his post.

    “We went by there one day and I drove by and [the anti-war protesters] had a bunch of flag-draped coffins laid out on the sidewalk. That, I thought, was probably the most distasteful thing I had ever seen. Ever,” Pannell (Kevin Pannell, who has both legs amputated), a member of the Army’s First Cavalry Division, told Cybercast News Service.

    “You know that 95 percent of the guys in the hospital bed lost guys whenever they got hurt and survivors’ guilt is the worst thing you can deal with,” Pannell said, adding that other veterans recovering from wounds at Walter Reed share his resentment for the anti-war protesters.

    “We don’t like them and we don’t like the fact that they can hang their signs and stuff on the fence at Walter Reed,” he said. “[The wounded veterans] are there to recuperate. Once they get out in the real world, then they can start seeing that stuff (anti-war protests). I mean Walter Reed is a sheltered environment and it needs to stay that way.”

    Another lie, Oliver?

  3. James Joyner says:

    Anderson: True ’nuff. Protestors almost always represent their cause poorly. The civil rights marchers of the mid-1960s are the only notable exception that comes readily to mind.

  4. Kent says:

    James: The civil rights protestors had the considerable advantage that they were pushing a genuinely noble cause.

  5. James Joyner says:

    Kent: Sure. But lots of good causes, like the anti-abortion movement, attract mostly yahoos to their protest marches. It may just be the nature of the beast. Most “normal” folk have to work for a living, after all.

  6. Just a quick note that you and everyone else already noticed: “Commission Votes to Close Walter Reed Army Medical Center

    The panel voted unanimously Thursday morning to close the Walter Reed hospital, where U.S. presidents, foreign leaders, veterans and wounded soldiers have been treated since it opened in 1909. Walter Reed’s services will be moved to the Bethesda military hospital and to a new hospital in Fort Belvoir in southeastern Fairfax County.

  7. anjin-san says:

    This group of “protesters” sounds like the usaual group of professional troublemakers who apparently don’t have to work for a living. They do not represent most of the people in this country opposed to the war. I am opposed to The Bush admin’s policy, these wounded vets deserve nothing but our support.

  8. RA says:

    These people are not tacky, they are scum, just like their apologists.

  9. Ken Taylor says:

    These morons actually claim to support the troops. This isn’t support this is one of the most disgusting acts of lunacy ever undertaken in American history. These hero’s who are at Walter Reed don’t need to hear this left wing rhetoric. Their sacrifice and devotion demands and deserves better. If these loonies want to protest move from this sight. This is not a, “vigil” as they call it. It is a disgrace and dishonors everyone in Walter Reed and the nation they serve!

  10. Bachbone says:

    The term “despicable” coms to mind, but it’s not harsh enough for the protesters. Were I one of them, I’d look up the word “karma” and rethink my method of protesting.

  11. Dave says:

    Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once wrote into a decision that “The Bill of Rights IS NOT a suicide pact”. Translation……The right of free speech being guaranteed to the feckless anti-war protesters at Walter Reed Hospital (guaranteed by the very sacrifice of the veterans whom they now disgrace) is WRONG, and hurtful. They should move their protest to the Pentagon if they are do disposed. This group of protesters would be the first to CRY FOUL if a protest in support of War were held in front of their own homes.

  12. McGehee says:

    This group of “protesters” sounds like the usaual group of professional troublemakers who apparently don’t have to work for a living. They do not represent most of the people in this country opposed to the war. I am opposed to The Bush admin’s policy, these wounded vets deserve nothing but our support.

    Well said, Anjin-san.

  13. Lewis Beyman says:

    I have never heard such trash as from most of your commentators. Of course the protesters are supporting the troops. They want to prevent others from ending up in that hospital. Code Pink is a well known anti war advocacy group. Your commentators sound like right wing loons who think war is a good thing. It isn’t.

    The Bush fascists are the most dangerous government this country has ever had. Something has to be done to stop them.

  14. Marcia L. Neil says:

    Sleep disturbance is a common cause of death in hospitals, and surely such protests do not therefore promote healing among all. Such blatant attempts to induce or intensify mental fatigue might actually be prosecutable. If the protesters are so convinced that their message should be pro-claimed, with direct effects upon war-wounded gauged, a more appropriate location can be negotiated and filmed, with videotapes ‘awarded’ to those war-wounded who want them. This is surely a civil-rights issue for war-wounded and families, who may detect some sort of “seed spilled upon the ground” attitude and strategy. Ther is no excuse for able-bodied people to disturb such war-wounded who are doubtless trying to mentally order their own thoughts and assimilate their own experiences.

  15. J.J. Jackson says:

    Hey look, another misdirected use of the word “fascist” for the circular file. Put down the talking points memo … now step back slowly … slowly … that’s it. Everything will be ok.

    You should head down there right now and tell each and every one of those soldiers to their faces how much the protestors are “supporting” them. Let me know when you get out of the hospital and your broken bones heal.