Friday, December 31, 2004

Supporting Our Troops

I discussed the Army's problem with adenovirus a while back, but I think I had about five readers at that point - one of whom was a troll - so I'll recap. Briefly, it causes a respiratory disease that's become epidemic at some of our boot camps. The Army used to inoculate recruits against it, but decided that it was too expensive and stopped the program.

It was probably just a coincidence that the disease became common again after the inoculation stopped. Now, up to 3000 recruits a month are getting sick, and some are dying. This, of course, is far more expensive (and morally problematic) than the vaccinations were.

And personally, I really don't think that this is the appropriate way to deal with these costs:

[T]he grandparents of 18-year-old Army National Guard recruit Matthew Nish struggle for answers after being told their grandson died in July of heat exhaustion at Fort Jackson, S.C.

Guardians of Nish, they do not believe that explanation and have received few details other than a $7,100 bill for his medical treatment.
Fortunately, after the Seattle Times made some inquiries on behalf of these folks, the Army claimed the bill had been sent in error by a "subcontractor," voided it, and apologized to the boy's grandparents.

This demonstrates that reporters actually can bring injustices to light, and get them fixed. It's really a shame that so few of them bother to try.

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