another nonsensical argument

Healthcare for Everyone! Or else!
Healthcare for Everyone! Or else!

My friend posted this crazy editorial on Facebook. Here’s the first line, “Joining the military has its perks, but the value of those benefits is at risk.”

You should read the whole thing, but if you don’t feel like it, here’s the gist: Christie Vanover (USAG Benelux) is saying that if people want free health care, they should join the military. They can have all the free health care they want in return for serving their country. And if health care is going to be available to everyone now, then soldiers will need something more to make their sacrifice worthwhile.

I tried writing a response, but I went on and on, and Facebook’s comments only have so much space. So here’s my rebuttal this ill-formed opinion.

I’m not sure I’m down with the logic that anything is at risk, except a common recruiting tool. As a former service member and dependent, I can certainly agree that the medical coverage was the best of the benefits. However, I don’t think that the plan to include a public option would mean “free”…so far, the term used by the Obama administration has been “affordable”, and I certainly don’t think it has ANY bearing on whether or not service members are justly compensated for their service. There are clear bullet points of what the health care reform plan will and won’t do here.

This commentary (which I believe really has no place on the US Army’s official site) really muddies the water. Let’s not start pitting people who can’t afford health care against soldiers.

I can see how an affordable option for health care for everyone would scare recruiters…I would wager a lot of people join just for the health care. Just like people join just for the college money. Or just for the bonus. Or whatever.

But this is really an apples and oranges kind of situation. Making health care affordable for everyone can only add to the well-being and prosperity of this country. To say that making health care coverage available for people who have none somehow diminishes the excellent health care system the military currently offers, or that the military now needs something additional to make their service worthwhile is nonsensical.

The majority of enlisted soldiers come from lower and lower middle class families. Do you think they want to keep their extended families from getting healthcare coverage? I seriously doubt it.

I think people join the military for a million different reasons – because a parent or sibling or grandparent served, because of 9/11, because they want the GI Bill, because they hate their town and want out, because they want to see the world, because they think they need structure, because they LOVE THIS COUNTRY or because they have no other options. Whatever the reason, CHOOSING to serve is awesome. For me, wearing that uniform with pride was so important. I can’t really express how proud I felt when my dad called me his “little soldier”, or knowing that I was the first female in my family to serve, with ancestors serving in the military in every generation back to the Revolutionary War. None of that would be lessened if there was affordable health care available to all Americans. None of it. It would all still be there. Wearing the uniform, making the sacrifices, serving my country would still be just as worthwhile.

Let’s not muddy the waters.

4 thoughts on “another nonsensical argument

  1. Similarly, I must exceed the FB comment limit to go “Wow – didn’t mean to kick all that up” or, on other hand “what fun to kick all that up!”

    I am guilty of re-tweeting without following that link. I thought that Mullen just snapped out a quick “join the service, get healthcare.” I most especially agree with both you and Julie’s sentiments of “what the heck is this doing on Army.mil?” And I think that she brings up an interesting point, reiterated here, regarding recruiting &c. But it is a little Starship-Trooperish and, while I can follow that logic (and it’s even fun to shout about it from time to time) the fact is that a) only about a third of America is even qualified to join the military and b) we only need about a million. This leaves a significant gap in those still needing healthcare. I am still not convinced that some sort of compulsory service for some benefit of citizenship wouldn’t be a good thing. (Two years of Americorps, Peace Corps, or Defense Corps for a year of college anyone?)But none of this gets to what I see as a core issue and since, having healthcare for life, I don’t really have a dog in this fight, I can be a bit flippant about the arguments that are held.

    Last night we heard a hugely popular president elected on the backs of promises to stop a war and reform the healthCARE system waste a great speech (after diddling around all summer). We heard racist ideologues dispose of much of the remaining dignity that Congress has with frat boy behavior and their own lies. But what we heard was a lowbrow fight over minor adjustments to the health insurance industry in America – hardly a word about health CARE. And if the Ds actually got everything that the president proposed passed would it make much difference in the lives of the millions of un or underinsured in this country? I don’t think so.

    If the president, or any national level discusser, were actually starting from the premise of reforming health CARE and treating it as a right of Americans rather than considering insurance (basically legalized gambling) a necessary utility bill, I could give more credence to any discussion that followed. All of these discussions are so minor to the issues at hand as to be compared with other entertainment fodder. Watching the Housewives of wherever or Jesse James Must (do something really dumb)will probably come as close to getting a single Mom employed by Wal-Mart with a $400 per month, $1100 deductible policy healthcare as any of these bills will.

    None of those things will happen as long as for-profit insurance companies are allowed to gamble on people’s health with for-profit healthcare institutions, both of whom are among the biggest contributors to the campaigns of politicians who need that money to get elected and stay employed and get healthcare for their families. If we want to be serious about this, we must not allow these companies to make money off of people’s misery. We must define basic healthcare as a right. We should join the rest of the civilized world and make for-profit-insurance-for-basic-coverage illegal. And we must squeeze their money out of politics.

  2. “(Two years of Americorps, Peace Corps, or Defense Corps for a year of college anyone?)”

    Best idea ever. And why not? I say two years is compulsory, and anything after that earns college money. I still like the idea that Hillary Clinton ran with about the civil service university – where you go to school for free in exchange for four years of government service after graduation. Just like West Point, but civilian jobs. What are we waiting for?

    But anyway, about insurance…

    I thought we were lucky to have pretty good insurance, and most of the time, I still think that. But the truth is that every time I’ve needed medical treatment, even with a high quality PPO (and possibly because of it), it’s cost me an arm and a leg for things that weren’t covered.

    We’re not even a bad or particularly needy case. But we’ve certainly felt the strain of huge and unexpected medical bills, on things that were supposedly approved and their huge deductibles. I had a two-year long battle with one insurance company over some bills, and after approximately 25 letters back and forth and numerous phone calls, I finally negotiated a settlement with the doctor’s office. An expensive settlement.

    I hate insurance companies and their tricky codes and secret languages. It seems like anything would be better than it is now.

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