Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Part II: How NOT to treat a soldier

Comments on the previous post from a friend of mine...

Having lived in the UK and used the NHS I can attest that it is every conservative’s poster child for what can go wrong with a public health care system. In addition there is a huge south asian population in the UK, many of whom do not feel part of British Society. The war in Iraq in particular, but Afghanistan as well, is tremendously unpopular, so much so, that Blair is being forced out by his own party (ya gotta love parliamentary democracies). So it’s not surprising that the squatties (English for grunt) are being harassed while they languish in a squalid hospital. Still it’s appalling and will no doubt result in yet another backlash against British Muslims, further alienating the young and disaffected creating more opportunities for them to become radicalized.

Here in Canada we have followed a similar path. The Defence Medical Centres were closed over a decade ago. The rational was to save money by eliminating “duplicate” publicly funded health care systems (Canada, famously has a nation wide publicly funded health care system). At the time the rational made sense, spend millions on dedicated medical centres or on bullets and boots. We had beaten the godless commies and the probability of an all out war with anyone seemed highly unlikely. Now that we are in a real shooting war again we are getting a lot of seriously injured soldiers being returned to public hospitals. Since the brigade currently deployed in Afghanistan is based not far from Ottawa (where I live) most of the injured are being returned to a local hospital. By all accounts they are receiving excellent care. Though there has been controversies about how reservists (which make up about 30% of our combat arms formations) are treated if they receive disabling wounds. (i.e. they are screwed). The casualty rates would have overwhelmed our paltry military health care system anyways. Furthermore they would have lacked the expertise especially in specialty areas like Neurology.

Only the US has the resources to warrant such an excellent dedicated and parallel system.

As an aside my Regiment (The Royal Canadian Regiment) has just returned from a 3 week standup fight with the Taliban. They report that they now have wire guided AT missiles, mortars, crew service weapons and are not afraid to fight in the open and during the day. It’s getting ugly out there.

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