The title says it all.
More than 43,000 U.S. troops listed as medically unfit for combat in the weeks before their scheduled deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan since 2003 were sent anyway, Pentagon records show.
This reliance on troops found medically “non-deployable” is another sign of stress placed on a military that has sent 1.6 million servicemembers to the war zones, soldier advocacy groups say.
“It is a consequence of the consistent churning of our troops,” said Bobby Muller, president of Veterans For America. “They are repeatedly exposed to high-intensity combat with insufficient time at home to rest and heal before redeploying.” […]
According to those statistics, the number of troops who doctors found non-deployable but who were still sent to Iraq or Afghanistan fluctuated from 10,854 in 2003, down to 5,397 in 2005, and back up to 9,140 in 2007.
So how “unfit” were they?
The Pentagon records do not list what â€” or how serious â€” the health issues are, nor whether they were corrected before deployment, said Michael Kilpatrick, a deputy director for the Pentagon’s Force Health Protection and Readiness Programs.
A Pentagon staffer examined 10,000 individual health records last year to determine causes for the non-deployable ratings, Kilpatrick said. Some reasons included a need for eyeglasses, dental work or allergy medicine and a small number of mental health cases, he said.
Listen, those things may seem small, but we’re talking about going into war zones. Anything can affect your readiness, and the difference between having eyeglasses and not having them could be incredibly significant. Same with an aching tooth or intense allergies.
One last sad example of how this played out…
At Fort Carson, in Colorado, Maj. Gen. Mark Graham ordered an investigation into deployment procedures for a brigade deployed to Iraq late last year. At least 36 soldiers were found medically unfit but were still deployed, Graham told USA TODAY.
For at least seven soldiers, treatment in the war zone was inadequate and the soldiers were sent home, he said, and at least two of them should never have been deployed.
I suppose these are things we force ourselves to do when we get into wars with little planning, poor strategy and no discernible way to declare victory.
Folks, let’s NEVER put ourselves in this situation again, okay?
FYI, if you ever want to do additional research on veteran health issues, you can check out IssueLab’s list of studies and quick facts. It’s a good resource.