Bush visits wounded veterans

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The Independent US

President George W. Bush paid an emotional visit on Thursday to soldiers maimed or badly burned in combat and said his administration is determined to mend the US system of caring for veterans.

Medical advances provide troops with treatment unimaginable just a decade ago, but the system for managing that care has lagged, Bush said.

"Our system needs to be modernized," the president said after touring a new $45 million privately funded rehabilitation centre for veterans at Brooke Army Medical centre.

"We have an outdated system that can bog down some of those recovering in a maze of bureaucracy and that's what happened at Walter Reed," he said, referring to the Army medical centre in Washington, D.C., which has been at the centre of scrutiny over veterans' care and discontent among returning troops after extended tours in Iraq.

The president said his administration had put in place recommendations of the commission he created after reports about substandard outpatient treatment at Walter Reed. He urged Congress to act on others that require legislation.

"There were serious problems (at Walter Reed) caused by bureaucratic delays and administration failures, and that is unacceptable," Bush said. 'It's unacceptable to me as the commander in chief, it's unacceptable to the families of those who deserve the best care and it's unacceptable to the American people."