Some 2.7 percent of American
troops sent to combat zones in the last seven years have had a medical
condition that made them "nondeployable." During this time, 1.6 million U.S.
troops have been sent to Iraq or Afghanistan. Many of these are military
personnel returning for a second or third tour. These are counted once for each
media made a big deal out of some of these troops having psychological
problems, and Congress is looking for some media love by holding hearings. The
reality of all this is less exciting. It usually is.
during World War II, the concept of a "medical profile" was developed, and this
analysis of each soldiers medical condition determined what kind of duty they
were fit for. An injury or disease could make you ineligible for some kinds of activity
(like combat, or going overseas.) Since then, some troops have learned how to
game the medical profile situation to their benefit. Anyone who's spent some
time in uniform over the last 65 years is familiar with this. In response, the
military medical personnel, and unit commanders, have worked out responses to
dealing with those trying to use the medical profile system to avoid
unpleasant, or dangerous, duty. With a war on, in two unpleasant places, there
are a lot of troops trying to work the medical profile system to avoid going
majority of troops sent overseas are not involved in combat, and in those
cases, the commanders order them to go anyway, with the understanding that they
will serve under the same conditions (of work, and medical care) that they
received back in the States (or Germany or South Korea, where U.S. troops are
stationed, and sometimes ordered to Afghanistan or Iraq). If the proper medical
care turns out to not be available, the troops are sent back to the United
States. This does not happen very often. Thus in the vast majority of cases,
the "nondeployable" are deployed with no adverse effects on their health. Some of
these troops claim that their mental health is hurt when they are sent
someplace they don't want to go. But that brings up another aspect of this
game. The military will discharge anyone who is uncooperative, ineffective or insubordinate.
When you try to game the medical profile system, you have to pretend you really
want to go but, darn, you have this medical condition. When you are told that
the medical condition can be cared for in Afghanistan, you either say, "hey,
that's great," or be prepared to end your military career.