Saturday, July 23, 2005

How not to support the troops

When Napolean Bonaparte introduced conscription in the wake of the French Revolution he changed the nature of warfare. With the average civilian as cannon fodder at his disposal he could wage war in ways undreamed of in modern times. The human cogs in this machine, however, were still just machine components for military strategists, as they have been ever since--in wars that are just or unjust, good or bad, successful or disastrous. To the extent soldiers are treated with respect by military strategists, it is to the extent they need to be treated that way to retain their services and loyalties. Once they have served their purpose, Sayonara.

Here is a case in point, sent via the Comments of an earlier post on the difficulty of getting military and civilian personnel to submit themselves to the anthrax vaccine (which, make no mistake, is not for the benefit of the soldier but for the supposed benefit of the military and its mission). While rare, I saw a case of myelofibrosis in my training many decades ago, and it is indeed a terrible disease.

[NB: Lightly edited from a Comment by Mike Carlin]:
I know a Marine Chaplain, Lt. Richard P. Bradley, who has been diagnosed at Walter-Reed and Bethesda with a terrible disease, Idiopathic Myelofibrosis, the doctors tell him was brought on by his required anthrax vaccinations. He was diagnosed with Idiopathic Myelofibrosis around Jan. 2004. Since that time he has undergone 4 surgeries, 2 bone marrow biopsies, and many, many tests. Odds of getting Idiopathic Myelofibrosis are about 2 out of 1,000,000 but 80% of those who do get it don’t live more than 5 years. There is no known cure. He has to take Percocet, Morphine, and 800 mg. Motrin to control his pain.

Chaplain Bradley’s condition stems from a reaction to the anthrax shots he received in the fall of 1999 while onboard the USS Frank Cable AS 40.

In this condition he obviously must leave the service and in trying to get continued medical coverage his case has been reviewed by a military PEB (Physical Evaluation Board). They have determined he's only 10% disabled, which they say is from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, [not] acknowledging the myelofibrosis. He needs to be rated at 30% to get medical treatment from the military Tricare system. His current out-of-pocket medical bill, oncology alone, is $1,136 weekly!

June 14th 2005 the PEB rejected his “Reconsideration Package”. The next step is a Formal Hearing, which has been scheduled for August 18th. Once the Formal Hearing has begun he should know within another 2 to 3 months regarding their final ruling. Here is a man, fighting for his life and having to deal with an uncaring, immovable bureaucracy.

To just about top it off he was just recently informed, by his command, that he will not be getting an End of Tour FITREP (evaluation, in civilian terms). After 13 years of honorable service he will not be getting an EOT award either.

. . . . While, it sounds like the military is trying to avoid some liability, which perhaps is understandable, it certainly shouldn’t be turning it’s back on their responsibility to this soldier. Chaplain Bradley is only seeking fair medical coverage and nothing more.

[Major Bradley is] fighting for his life right now and needs someone or some group to come forward and get this settled for him quickly so he can devote his energies to wellness. He's stationed on Parris Island.