Tag Archives: soldiers

Modernize U.S. military medical training to save lives and money

By Doris Browne, M.D., M.P.H.

Nearly 100 Republicans and Democrats have come together in support of an important bill — Rep. Hank Johnson’s (D-Ga.) Battlefield Excellence through Superior Training (BEST) Practices Act (H.R. 1243).

If enacted, this bill would help doctors, medics and others save the lives of injured military service members by replacing ineffective and expensive trauma-training drills on animals with superior and less costly human simulation models.

I am a service-disabled veteran who spent nearly 28 years as a physician in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, and I currently serve as president-elect of the National Medical Association. I support this effort to modernize military medical training.

Many military medical personnel currently receive Cold War-era training that involves inflicting traumatic injuries on pigs and goats to learn how to repair injuries in humans. Some animals have very different anatomies from humans, which can inhibit successful translation of medical skills across species.

For instance, goats have 13 sets of ribs as opposed to 12 sets in human beings. Compared with humans, goats and pigs have smaller torsos, thicker skin and major differences in internal organs. Goats have a four-chamber stomach compared to the human one-chamber stomach, making goats poor models for teaching human abdominal procedures. Placing an epidural needle in pigs is different from doing this procedure on humans, as the respective spinal cords for pigs and humans end in different vertebral sections, and incorrect placement in humans could cause severe nerve damage.

Goats’ veins and arteries sit on top of the muscle and are easy to visualize, grab and clamp to stop a hemorrhaging wound. Human veins and arteries run through the muscle, and when damaged, they contract, making them difficult to grab and clamp to stop a hemorrhage.

Also, the pressure required to properly apply a tourniquet on a human’s limb is significantly different from that needed to apply one to a small goat’s limb. Failing to learn how to properly stop hemorrhaging wounds can have potential life-or-death consequences.

A recent study found that nearly a quarter of combat deaths from 2001 through 2011 were potentially survivable, and in 90 percent of these cases, avoidable deaths were due to massive blood loss.

Military medics shouldn’t be burdened with translating skills learned on an anatomically foreign, sedated goat or pig to a bleeding and screaming comrade on a chaotic battlefield.

A better training method would use anatomically correct, advanced human simulators that can breathe, bleed and even die just like real people.

The BEST Practices Act would help the military make the transition to using superior human simulation technology in place of animals for trauma training.

A recent Army study found that the agency could even save millions of taxpayer dollars with this transition.

Last month, the U.S. Coast Guard announced that it had suspended all animal use for trauma training. This policy shift will allow medical personnel to master emergency skills on realistic human anatomy, improve providers’ skill confidence and save the agency money.

The Department of Defense should follow suit by giving its medical personnel the human-simulation training tools they need to better save lives and permanently banning inferior, animal-based trauma-training methods.

Doris Browne, M.D., M.P.H., is a retired colonel who served nearly 28 years as a physician in the U.S. Army Medical Corps and is the president-elect of the National Medical Association, the largest and oldest national organization representing the interests of more than 30,000 African-American physicians and the patients they serve.

Edith parked in YY … Old Soldiers

By Edith Morgan

They’re getting older and there are fewer of them; but every year at this time, they are at St. John’s Cemetery on Cambridge Street and other places to put American flags by the graves of those who died in battle. I am referring to our veterans, members of the American Legion, who have for many years put flags by 3,000 graves each year. This year they are getting help from the South High School and the Burncoat High School members of the ROTC.

I can remember many years ago, when there were parades down Worcester’s Main Street, featuring the marching bands of the various services, in full uniform. Many of us lined up along the street waving flags along the sidewalk. But year after year the crowds got smaller, the parades shorter, and the enthusiasm less. It is almost like “battle fatigue,” with so many wars, so much death, so many killed or maimed, year after year, war after war … .

As I look back, I think much of the disenchantment started with the disastrous Vietnam war. And has continued through the many wars we fought, wars whose burdens were not borne equally by all, under the draft, but were fought by a “volunteer army” representing a smaller segment of the American people, often for many years and in faraway places.

I have always strongly believed that, regardless of whether you are drafted, or whether you a a volunteer, we who send you out to fight our battles, to die or return damaged in body and/or soul, deserve quality support and care, for you and your families.

Even when I have opposed some of these wars, I have always believed that it is our duty to properly care for those who returned, as well as those who gave their lives.

So this special day, the last Monday in May, should be given over to remembering these dead, making sure that their loved ones are being looked after and perhaps giving thought to how to prevent the incessant slaughter that makes such a remembrance necessary.

But what I miss at this time is a day commemorating the civilian dead and injured, those in both sides of a war, who are just “in the way” – whose homes are bombed, whose air is poisoned, whose vital services are interrupted and who are not reimbursed for any losses – who are left to the tender mercies of charities, committees or government bureaucracies. They are generally women and children, left to fend for themselves, chased here and there, usually unarmed and uncounted.

I recall one Memorial Day parade in Worcester, when some of us who were members the WILPF (Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom) wanted to join the parade with a large poster enumerating the number of civilian victims of World War II – who outnumbered the military dead about 10 to one. We were told we could not join, and had to walk along the parade route on the sidewalk. If all these wars were fought to “protect” us, the people, then why are we not counted (our numbers are always given in figures – like “60 million died in World War I.” So on Memorial Day, I remember the innocent, the civilian dead, also – and hope we have learned something.

Tonight! Be there! Worcester City Council meeting! 7 p.m. City Hall … Speak out to restore the memorial honoring our WW II veterans of color!

From the Worcester NAACP branch:

Greetings,

The VFW Post 312 is calling out to Veterans and community members to support their efforts in seeking the assistance from the City to replace the Colored Citizens of Worcester Honor Roll monument. 

Mr. Bonds will be speaking on behalf on the VFW Post 312 tonight March 29 before the Worcester City Council at 7 p.m.  Bill Coleman has petitioned the City Council on this matter recently.  

Thank You,

Pat

********

From James Bonds:

Friends:

On Tuesday, March 29, at 7 p.m. I am appearing before the Worcester City Council  on behalf  of VFW Post 312 to gain the Council support on replacing the honor roll that was erected and dedicated in 1943 and placed on the ground at Belmont and Clayton streets.

The honor roll was moved in 1959 to make room for interstate highway 290. The names on that honor roll were World War II Soldiers (The greatest generation). 

I am asking for your support by coming to the Worcester City Council meeting [tonight]. Veterans please wear your cover. 

I thank you in advance for your support.

James Bonds

**********

From ICT contributing writer Ron O’Clair:

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Worcester St. Patrick’s Day Parade photo: Ron O’Clair

My thoughts on this subject

By Ron O’Clair

I understand that the powers that be back in 1959 had to move the Memorial to run I-290 through the area where it stood, even though Clayton Street is no longer there. But why did they not put it up somewhere else?

That is the question I have and will be voicing at Worcester City Hall tonight at the Worcester City Council meeting. I believe the inaction was/is a blatant sign of disrespect for our fallen heroes of color who deserved the honor they received by having the memorial built by a grateful City of Worcester in the first place.

Nothing irritates this former staff sergeant more than to have fellow soldiers, airmen or naval personnel shown such discourtesy whether by intention or by oversight.

This is an egregious violation that needs to be rectified immediately by special order of the present City Council seated now, of which its newest member Khrystian E. King happens to be a person of color. I was pleased to have had an opportunity this past November to ask my own 580 city council candidate supporters to vote for King in lieu of candidate Juan Gomez, as I feel that Khrystian E. King may be the new blood we need on the city council to move Worcester into the future.

I hope Worcester City Councilor King will be at the forefront of a drive to rectify this slap in the face to our deceased veterans of color. They have been ignored since 1959. I will be right there with him.

We should determine exactly what happened to the original monument and find if it is stored away somewhere in some area of the City of Worcester gathering dust. We should restore it to its original glory and find a spot to erect it with the proper ceremonial honors being paid to the event.

Failing locating the original structure, we should commission a new monument and perhaps use this as an opportunity to have our own Worcester artisans involved in its conception, design and construction.

This is something we all need to get behind. We need to work together to show that we have learned something through the summer’s Department of Justice talks on race relations, of which I was a participant.

Why no one brought this up long ago is also something I will be inquiring about at tonight’s Worcester City Council meeting.

I salute the memory of all the citizens whose names belong on the monument. I wish to see them properly remembered for their service and sacrifices to the cause of freedom and democracy during the second World War when America stood fast in the face of evil, united against the tyranny of oppression from the Axis powers of that era in history, only after having been surprise-attacked on 07 DEC 1941 on the day that lives on in infamy.
 

The high cost of historical ignorance

By Paul S. Ropp

Ignorance of world history should be a crime for politicians. Why? Because historical ignorance has led to some of the worst disasters in American foreign policy. In the 1960s, for example, the US sent 500,000 troops to the small country of Vietnam in order to “contain China” and to maintain the independence and “democracy” of South Vietnam.

In fact, South Vietnam was no democracy, and Vietnam was a proudly nationalistic country that had successfully contained China, quite by itself, for 2000 years. With neighboring Laos and Cambodia, it had fiercely resisted French and Japanese imperialism in modern times. And all three countries retained a profound sense of national pride and a profound hatred for Western or Japanese armies.

Consequently United States troops were widely seen in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia as a richer version of the racist and rapacious French and Japanese. Yet American leaders, blindly ignorant of Asian history and Asian nationalism, and fearing the “soft on communism” charge in domestic politics, sent 57,000 young Americans to their early deaths, and killed between one and two million Vietnamese, Laotians and Cambodians, mostly civilians. This death and devastation was a direct result of our profound ignorance of the history and cultures of Asia.

More recently, and more disastrously for the US national interest, George W. Bush felt emboldened by the 9/11 terrorist attacks to launch an invasion of Iraq in 2003, even though Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. With no knowledge and no curiosity about the history of the Middle East, Bush assumed that just because Saddam Hussein was a nasty dictator, American troops would be welcomed in Baghdad, and American-style democracy would be warmly embraced by all parties.

The history of western imperialism in the Middle East is as shameful, and as relevant today, as the history of western imperialism in Asia. After World War I, the British arbitrarily drew the boundaries of Iraq, deliberately combining three hostile groups—Sunnis, Shi’ites and Kurds—to guarantee a weak and unstable oil-rich country that could be manipulated and dominated by the West.

Because Saddam Hussein brutally imposed Sunni control over the Shi’ites and Kurds, it was clear to all historians that his overthrow would seriously weaken Iraq and unleash lethal tensions pitting revenge-seeking Shi’ites in the south and independence-seeking Kurds in the north against the former Sunni power-holders.

Ignoring the history of Iraq, Bush wildly exaggerated Saddam’s military power, quickly destroyed the country’s modern infrastructure, and then failed to provide even a semblance of law and order, or the massive reconstruction effort so desperately needed following the “shock and awe” of the American assault. The Saddam regime’s sudden collapse proved he was never a serious military threat to American interests. The looting of the Iraqi national museum and the torture photos from Abu-Ghraib Prison became symbols the world over of American ignorance, arrogance and hypocrisy.

When no weapons of mass destruction could be found in Iraq, the war rationale was changed to democratization, despite the fact that nothing is less democratic or more subversive of democratic values than a foreign military invasion. The Bush war in Iraq has empowered Iran as many Middle Eastern experts predicted, and has inspired both Iran and North Korea to accelerate, not abandon, their nuclear development. The sectarian tensions and continuing violence in Iraq today are a direct result of the Bush administration’s reckless invasion in 2003.

The Bush war in Iraq has killed some 4000 Americans and over 100,000 Iraqis, and seriously wounded over 20,000 Americans and untold numbers of Iraqis. Over 2 million Iraqis, mostly middle class professionals, have fled the war-torn country, and the industrial infrastructure of Iraq has still not been restored to pre-war levels. The financial costs of health care for Iraq war veterans, the interest on the money borrowed to fight the war, and the damage to America’s moral standing in the world will be a burden on the US for generations to come.

Americans like to focus on the future, not on the past. But ignoring the past leaves us blind to the moral, political and financial costs of our past mistakes, and all too likely to repeat those mistakes in the future. Beware of American politicians who combine arrogance and ignorance of world history. They are a greater threat to our national security, prosperity and power than any external enemies.

The military abuse video you haven’t heard about

By Lindsay Pollard-Post

Americans and Afghans alike are rightly outraged over a video circulating on the Internet that allegedly shows U.S. Marines urinating on Taliban corpses. Pentagon officials are scrambling to do damage control, fearing that the video will hinder peace talks, and military officials are promising that those involved will be punished to the highest extent. But another video that surfaced recently also merits outrage and action: It shows a soldier viciously beating a sheep with a baseball bat while other soldiers laugh and cheer.

Blow after metallic, stomach-churning blow rains down on the terrified sheep’s skull. The convulsing and kicking animal tries in vain to rise and flee, but the man with the bat just keeps swinging. A local boy in the background jumps up and down in apparent delight while the sheep struggles on the ground. Despite a letter and phone calls from PETA to high-ranking Army officials, no action has been taken on this case after more than a month.

Animals don’t start wars. They don’t have political views, militaries or weapons. Yet they are often the victims of cruelty in combat zones. In 2008, video surfaced of a smiling Marine who hurled a live puppy off a cliff while another Marine laughed. Thankfully, after a massive public outcry and pressure from PETA, the puppy-tossing Marine was expelled, and another Marine in the video faced disciplinary action.

The same year, video that was allegedly taken from a CD found in Baghdad’s Green Zone depicts what appear to be U.S. soldiers taunting and tormenting a dog whose back legs were apparently crippled. The laughing men threw rocks at the dog, who snarled and yelped in pain before making a desperate attempt to flee on two legs. One of the men in the video said the dog’s attempt to run was “the funniest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.” Many other similar incidents of abuse have been recorded on video, and many more likely never see the light of day.

Whether the abuser is a military service member or a regular Joe, cruelty to animals isn’t “normal” behavior, and it must be taken seriously, for everyone’s safety. People who find pleasure or humor in harming animals aren’t just cruel; they’re also cowards because they target “easy victims” who don’t have any hope of fighting back.

Mental-health and law-enforcement professionals know that animal abusers’ disregard for life and indifference to suffering indicate a dangerous psychopathy that does not confine itself to animal victims. A history of cruelty to animals regularly shows up in the FBI records of serial rapists and murderers, and a study by Northeastern University and the Massachusetts SPCA found that people who abuse animals are five times more likely to commit violent crimes against humans. Violence is a fact of war, but the depravity shown by the sheep-beating soldier and the sick pleasure the onlookers seemed to derive from watching the beating are red flags.

All the students who have opened fire on their classmates have histories of cruelty to animals. “BTK” killer Dennis Rader, who was convicted of killing 10 people, admitted that he was cruel to animals as a child and apparently practiced strangling dogs and cats before moving on to human victims. Serial killer and cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer tortured animals and impaled cats’ and dogs’ heads on sticks. The Boston Strangler, Albert DeSalvo, used arrows to shoot cats and dogs who were trapped inside crates.

Whether it occurs at home or in a war zone, there is never an excuse for harming animals. The stakes of cruelty to animals are far too high to ignore it, to excuse it or to let those who commit it go unpunished. It’s time for the military to treat acts of cruelty to animals with the seriousness that they deserve.