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Re: Word from Iraq

Well, I guess I ought to begin with a disclaimer: I am retired from the Army Nurse Corps, and spent my childhood as a military dependent. Had my wisdom teeth out at Ft Devens, MA (now closed) - not fun, but then, those years ago, I'm willing to bet dentistry was no fun anywhere. The quality of care in any facility, military or civilian, is directly related to the people employed there and the quality of their leadership. (My parents, in the 50s, thought I would get better care from a civilian pediatrician...what I got was neck irradiation for my tonsils, and so a lifetime of monitoring my thyroid for cancer). Quality can be a problem everywhere.
Caregivers in the military do/did have the joy of being able to do what they felt was best for their patients without having to agonize over whether the insurance would pay for it. The downside is that a system you don't have to pay out of pocket for can be abused. Our ERs were overrun with "unnecessary visits", despite extended primary care clinic hours, which could probably have been reduced by charging $5.00 to be seen, but that would have been illegal
My daughter is married to an Air Force person, but before that spent time in the "civilian world" after she lost eligibility for care. She loves the peace of mind that comes with not having to worry about paying out of pocket medical expenses (of course she lives near a military hospital).
I do not live near such, and have been blessed with good health so far. I know that when I do require it, I cannot expect the freedom from cost I experienced on active duty - military hospitals are missioned to provide health care for the troops - all else is "space A".
As you say, when you join the military, there are no guarantees, mainly because what the government gives, the government can take away.
On Tuesday, February 3, 2004, at 02:35 AM, Marge Talt wrote:

Well, I think things must have changed a bit in the military since
WWII and my childhood as an army brat.

During WWII, field soldiers were lucky to get K-rations (pretty gross
stuff).  I think they might have had coffee sometimes, but no
guarantee and as far as toiletries in the field, showers or even beds
don't think they were offered to the front line who were lucky to get
a tent or a foxhole.

I spent my first 18+ years using military medical facilities.
Thought they rather stank in spades.  You could sit in the waiting
room in high fever for hours, medical personnel were brusque and of
extremely varying quality; you had absolutely no options but took
what you were given or nothing at all.  Had my wisdom teeth out at
Fort Hood, TX as a young adult...not an experience I'd ever recommend
to anybody unless they like 6 hour sessions with only Novocain and
dental technicians who obviously were in learning mode.

My parents used the hospital at the post where they retired until it
was closed (the base) a few years ago but when they really needed
care, they went to the private sector.  My father is a retired
regular army Col., so rank didn't really do much for them.  Since the
base closed, all the retired personnel in the area (a great number)
are on their own.  Of course, one of the major reasons they all
retired there was because of having a base close by.  Tough beans as
far as the government is concerned.

I am sure that care varies with location, like anything else, and it
also varies with whether you're army, navy, air force or what.  We
always figured the navy went top cabin and the army on it's belly:-)
Now, my personal contact with the military ended 40 years ago, so I
am sure things have changed - at least I sure hope so.  But, I
seriously doubt that they have managed to eliminate the tendency for
Catch 22 situations.

I also think that people either forget or don't realize that when you
sign on with the military you agree to do it their way, which is
quite different in very many respects from civilian life.

Marge Talt, zone 7 Maryland
Editor:  Gardening in Shade

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