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

By       Message Dominique Lord     Permalink
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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As expected, the possibility of the current version of the health care law being repealed was a major topic of the show.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.


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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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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