Bush & Co.

Service, Disney style: your tax dollars at work

The Bush administration, constantly implying that proponents of the war in Iraq have a monopoly on “supporting the troops,” faced intense criticism last year when the public learned about poor conditions at Walter Reed Medical Center. Their solution? Spending $800,000 in taxpayer money to have the Disney Institute train staff on customer service:

Fifty medical workers — doctors, nurses, therapists and administrators among them — sat in a room at Walter Reed Army Medical Center gazing at a slide of Donald Duck on a screen.

The oft-cranky Disney cartoon character, wearing his blue sailor jacket and cap, was in a palpable rage. His webbed feet had lifted off the ground, his beak was gaping, and his white-gloved hands were tightly clutching an old-fashioned two-piece telephone.

"We can clearly see he’s frustrated," said Kris Lafferty, a trainer for the Disney Institute who was leading workers at the Northwest Washington hospital last week in a four-hour seminar on customer service. "Why do we think he’s frustrated?"

A year after a scandal erupted over the long-term treatment of soldiers at the hospital, the Army has turned to Disney for help. "Service, Disney Style" is newly required for all military and other government employees at Walter Reed.