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Without health care, the U.S. will lose the perpetual war

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Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/militaryhealth/3380011988/

Health care reform (and its potential repeal) is back on the front page. The most recent, and unfortunate, news about health care shows that there are now 50,000,000 people in America who don't have any medical insurance at all. One can only wonder how many of these people will end up dying because they can't afford to get help.

A few weeks ago I watched the season finale of Real Time with Bill Maher. That night one of Maher's guests was Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA), a former US Navy Vice Admiral and the highest-ranking former military officer to serve in Congress, who was sadly defeated in the latest Democrat debacle (the 2010 mid-term election). This was the first time I heard of this guy, but he made some points that really hit home. I'd like to share them with you here.

As expected, the possibility of the current version of the health care law being repealed was a major topic of the show. During the discussion, Rep. Sestak mentioned something that I've touched on in my posts on health care reform (see here, and here, among others), but in a way that I hadn't thought of before.

It's common knowledge that all military personnel and their immediate families get full medical coverage (paid for by the American public, which no one seems to mind). But I'm sure that, like me, a lot of people just assumed that it was an incentive to get men and women to volunteer for the possibility of being blown up in foreign countries. But Rep. Sestak showed that it was a lot more than that:

  • By providing medical insurance, the soldiers are more likely to be in better health when they are called for duty. Basically, the United States armed forces want to ensure that their soldiers are in the best possible health even when they are not in combat situations.

 

  • By providing medical insurance to the soldiers' immediate family, the soldiers who are on tours of duty here and abroad have one less worry about the health and well-being of their loved ones, and can therefore devote that much more energy towards the objective.

 

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Now, I'll admit that the second point might seem a little nebulous and touchy-feely, but there's a lot of official support for Sestak's first point. The Military Health System, which is part of the US Department of Defense, has to say about the first point:

The MHS identifies, develops, and sustains critical military capability and readiness in support of resource management and the operational planning process. Medical readiness ensures service members are free of health-related conditions that limit ability to actively fulfill an assigned mission.

The goals of Medical Readiness include:

  • Managing warfighter fatigue is the ability to evaluate fatigue and monitor its effects on warfighter performance. Fatigue management is a proactive initiative in predicting warfighter performance and counter the effects of fatigue.

 

  • Enhancing warfighter sensory cognitive and motor capabilities is the ability to enhance and sustain human performance within three domains: sensory, cognitive, and physical activities. Addressing these abilities in individual warfighters aids in commanders' decision making.

 

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  • Enhancing physiological capability is the ability to improve success of the warfighter within the physiological domain: neuroprotection (to decrease brain injury), manipulation of metabolic processes (related to water intake, nutrition, and waste production), enhanced ability to withstand trauma, and maintained/enhanced performance despite the stressors of military operations.

 

  • Providing/maintaining ability to operate across the full range of environments is the ability to perform in flight environments, kinetic and highly-explosive environments, extreme climates, space, underwater environments, chemical/biological/radiological/nuclear (CBRN) environments, and directed-energy environments.

 

  • Providing a healthy and fit force is the ability to provide and enhance a healthy and fit force throughout the continuum from accession to veteran. This includes optimizing health/fitness of peacetime forces, maintaining health/fitness of deployed forces, and ensuring the physical and mental health of redeployed Service members to original optimal levels.

 

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Dominique is an Associate Professor in the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University. His research work aims at reducing the negative effects associated with motor vehicle crashes. When he's not developing mathematical and (more...)
 

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It's almost stand-up comic material that a rationa... by John Jonik on Monday, Nov 29, 2010 at 6:45:36 PM
Never mind your arguments, your solution has m... by BFalcon on Tuesday, Nov 30, 2010 at 10:21:39 AM
the current health care system has twice as many m... by Dominique Lord on Tuesday, Nov 30, 2010 at 4:46:38 PM
I will be glad to discuss exact status of our heal... by BFalcon on Tuesday, Nov 30, 2010 at 5:28:36 PM
I don't have the space here nor do I have the time... by Dominique Lord on Tuesday, Nov 30, 2010 at 9:50:24 PM
And if you truly want to discuss it we should go i... by BFalcon on Wednesday, Dec 1, 2010 at 12:12:41 AM
If you read the articles more carefully, we find t... by Dominique Lord on Wednesday, Dec 1, 2010 at 7:41:56 AM
Where do the millions of Americans go for health c... by BFalcon on Wednesday, Dec 1, 2010 at 9:28:22 AM
Uh...Mexicans ARE Americans, as are Canadians, tho... by John Jonik on Thursday, Dec 2, 2010 at 2:52:06 AM
But by convenience those from the United States of... by BFalcon on Thursday, Dec 2, 2010 at 7:08:37 AM
I forgot to add that important business people get... by Dominique Lord on Wednesday, Dec 1, 2010 at 7:52:32 AM
Businesses would just love to give us "their poor"... by BFalcon on Wednesday, Dec 1, 2010 at 9:32:56 AM
Too bad, I like proving inaccuracies to be what th... by BFalcon on Thursday, Dec 2, 2010 at 8:10:35 AM
As I indicated above, unless you can show me theor... by Dominique Lord on Thursday, Dec 2, 2010 at 4:03:47 PM
You said, wrong, that millions of Americans go som... by BFalcon on Thursday, Dec 2, 2010 at 10:40:08 PM
I was right hereAs discussed here among others, th... by Dominique Lord on Friday, Dec 3, 2010 at 1:17:17 PM
First, you said "millions" and now it is "well ove... by BFalcon on Saturday, Dec 4, 2010 at 10:55:12 AM
You write an article and then don't want to discus... by BFalcon on Sunday, Dec 5, 2010 at 11:38:13 AM
How to find an answer. It would be helpful to care... by BFalcon on Monday, Dec 6, 2010 at 8:00:02 AM
1- Many in Central and S. America resent the US ... by John Jonik on Thursday, Dec 2, 2010 at 7:19:40 PM
My apology to all Americans, wherever they live B... by BFalcon on Thursday, Dec 2, 2010 at 11:04:52 PM
1) Has it been shown in countries that have sin... by John Jonik on Friday, Dec 3, 2010 at 3:30:48 PM
You claim that for profit insurers actually don't ... by BFalcon on Saturday, Dec 4, 2010 at 11:09:30 AM
You said "You claim that for profit insurers actu... by John Jonik on Saturday, Dec 4, 2010 at 2:49:23 PM
And health care can't possibly be sustained by "re... by BFalcon on Saturday, Dec 4, 2010 at 4:47:47 PM
Smoking is what victims do. It's about personal "b... by John Jonik on Sunday, Dec 5, 2010 at 1:21:02 AM
But the states don't really use the money for heal... by BFalcon on Sunday, Dec 5, 2010 at 11:47:13 AM
1) To call it the "tobacco industry" is to accept ... by John Jonik on Sunday, Dec 5, 2010 at 11:32:01 PM
...the society as a whole is still much better off... by Dominique Lord on Friday, Dec 3, 2010 at 4:17:17 PM
Or because you were proven wrong?"Everyone has ade... by BFalcon on Saturday, Dec 4, 2010 at 11:25:16 AM
You now stoop down to citing bogus (biased) cancer... by Dominique Lord on Thursday, Dec 9, 2010 at 11:47:19 AM
After all these comments, you could not show, even... by Dominique Lord on Sunday, Dec 12, 2010 at 9:55:30 AM