On NBC Nightly News tonight they ran a story of a civilian who was severely wounded in Iraq that was “refused treatment” at Walter Reed ARMY Hospital (I wonder how he got from Iraq to Walter Reed? I imagine it was on a US Military airlift after being first treated at US Medical facilities in both Iraq and Europe – that’s the normal course).
I haven’t been able to find the story online yet. Thanks to Marcie, the video is here:
One of the arguments that was made was that every civilian casualty should get the same care at US facilities as our active duty Armed Forces get.
Now let’s make this clear – the US DOES provide a tremendous amount of medical care to civilians injured in Iraq. To Iraqi civilians as well as civilian contractors, journalists, business people, etc. At tremendous expense (and I have no issues with this – it is the right thing to do)
This specific case was about a contractor. I don’t know all the facts, I admit – but I do have some initial reactions:
- Our Military Health Care system, especially our Veteran’s Health Care System is bent severely, if not broken. It can hardly bear the strain of caring for the Active Duty and Veteran troupes.
- Civilian contractors generally make 4-5x what an active duty service member makes. Their employer should be required to provide them adequate health care, or they should do what I do – pay it myself. These contracting companies are filling their coffers with money and they CAN afford to take care of their people. The GAO should make it a condition of letting a contract.
- Some of the same people that express shock over the bad condition at Walter Reed, and other facilities seem to also support using these facilities to treat injured civilians – this seems irrational to me. We CAN (and have, and still are) improve our Military Health Care facilities – but not effectively if we burden them with more, and more and more.
Expecting our Military Health Care Facilities to dramatically improve care to our active duty and veteran soldier’s while also expecting them to take on a new role of health care provider to civilian contractors is foolhardy.