Militarism’s impact on health is focus of fine article

November 11, 2014 7:00 am  • 

Public health professionals have generally failed to work for the prevention of war, even though — like disease —war has negative impacts on health for both civilians and military personnel as well as detrimental impacts on infrastructure and the environment.

In a recent article, nine U.S. and Canadian public health scholars and thinkers directly confront “The Role of Public Health in the Prevention of War” — a role that has been tragically absent. Published in the June 2014 American Journal of Public Health, the writers pinpoint “militarism” as a root cause of the public health industry’s failure to take up the cause of preventing wars. Public health, they write, “has been more focused on the effects of war than on working toward the prevention of the fundamental causes of war.” The authors also define “militarism” in terms that are both familiar and chilling.

Worries roiling around the anti-Ebola virus effort, when compared with the prevention of war, might offer some insight into the way in which many Americans, including public health professionals, ignore the obvious when a new war is proposed, or an existing war is accepted, or a former war is discussed. As the outstanding, and overdue, AJPH article describes: “The United States launched 201 overseas military operations between the end of World War II and 2001, and since then, others, including Afghanistan and Iraq.”

Don’t the 190 million deaths “directly and indirectly related to war” during the 20th century represent a public health epidemic? Doesn’t the record-breaking war carnage of the past century qualify as a menace to public health?

If further proof is needed, consider this from the article: “Civilian war deaths constitute 85 percent to 90 percent of casualties caused by war, with about 10 civilians dying for every combatant killed in battle.”

Consider: “Ten percent to 20 percent of U.S. soldiers (of 1.8 million deployed since 2001) in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have experienced a concussive event with long-term health implications.”

Consider: “Thirty percent of active duty women experience rape, and 5 percent multiple or gang rape. Female soldiers are more likely to be raped by a colleague than to be killed in combat.”

Consider: “More U.S. troops committed suicide last year than died in combat.”

The compilation and concise presentation of these staggering statistics by the article’s authors is exhaustively supported by 223 carefully researched references, by title, website, date and page.

To their credit, among other important breakthroughs the authors present a case for the prevention of war in fewer than 8,000 words. Details about authorship, led by W.H. Wiist of Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, and references take up several more pages of this valid scholarly work, which is also very readable.

The writers follow a trail blazed when the American Public Health Association approved an official policy on the cessation of military recruiting in public schools. The APHA policy followed the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act, which gave military recruiters free access to public high schools along with the threat of funding cuts for noncompliance. According to the APHA policy: “Across the United States, recruiters from all branches of the military regularly enter every public high school to approach adolescents aged 14 through 18 years to persuade them to enlist in military service branches.” The vulnerability of minor-age children, and the disproportionate health consequences they face, compared to older soldiers, if they are recruited and sent to war is well documented. Action recommendations in the APHA policy include congressional repeal of public school collaboration with recruiters.

George Bush’s NCLB has been under justifiable scrutiny for its testing standards, while its enticement of adolescent children as potential combatants goes largely unnoticed. If parents, educators, churches, public health professionals, caregivers, and many other righteous people fail to intervene against the recruitment of minors in public schools, they embody the very definition of systemic militarism.

In three powerful paragraphs, the article dissects and defines militarism as extending a military mindset “into shaping the culture, politics, and economics of civilian life so that war and the preparation for war is normalized.”

Militarism “glorifies warriors, gives strong allegiance to the military as the ultimate guarantor of freedom and safety, and reveres military morals and ethics as being above criticism.” As a war-like, violence-seeking condition, the authors continue, “militarism has been called a ‘psychosocial disease,’ making it amenable to population-wide interventions.

“Thus, militarism warrants a priority focus for public health’s efforts to prevent war, including emphasis in public health curricula, research, and advocacy.”

Militarism’s profound effects on the economy, politics and corporate profits are noted, as are the military’s shadow cast across research and development, education, civilian law enforcement, justice systems, the media, outer space, and other important segments of 21st-century life. The writers wisely selected the pervasive presence of militarism as offering “critical insight for the analysis of the causes of war, the effects of war on health, and the influence of a culture of war on society and on the prospects for peace.”

They conclude: “Public health practitioners and academics have an obligation to take a lead role in the prevention of war by addressing the fundamental causes in society that lead to war.”

With clear thinking and focused writing, the American Journal of Public Health article explains precisely why “war is not healthy for children and other living things,” as the Another Mother for Peace anti-war slogan pointed out nearly 50 years ago.

David Giffey, of Arena, is the editor of “Long Shadows: Veterans’ Paths to Peace.”

Madison Veterans Hospital to hold town hall meeting Sept. 23

Originally posted on Madison.com.

Madison’s Veterans Hospital will hold a town hall meeting at 6 p.m. Sept. 23 for veterans, families, staff and the media.

“This will be a great opportunity for veterans to hear directly from hospital leaders about issues that concern or affect them,” according to an announcement this week on the hospital’s Facebook page.

An audit in June found new patients waited an average of 51 days to see a primary care doctor at the Madison VA. They waited an average of 24 days in Milwaukee and 17 in Tomah.

The VA has a 14-day target for wait times. Veterans in other states have died while waiting for care , leading to nationwide review.

The Madison VA hospital had a “significant increase in patient demand” and vacancies in primary care provider positions, resulting in the long wait for new patients, spokesman Tim Donovan said. The providers have been replaced or are being replaced, Donovan said.

In the 2013 fiscal year, patients made 1,404 complaints to the hospital’s patient advocate office, he said. Of those, 261 were concerns about the timeliness of access to care and 302 were about other aspects of patient care, he said.

More than 40,000 veterans were cared for in fiscal 2013 at the hospital and its clinics in Baraboo, Beaver Dam, Janesville, Madison and Freeport and Rockford, Illinois. They accounted for nearly 400,000 outpatient visits.

Veterans for Peace discuss VA health care, funding – The Cap Times

June 19, 2014 2:45 pm  •  By Jessie Opoien | The Capital Times

Local members of Veterans for Peace gathered Thursday to voice concerns about the “massive under-funding, massive under-staffing and effort to privatize” the Veterans Administration that they said has been occurring for the last 15-20 years.

The VA currently enrolls 9.1 million of the estimated 21.6 million veterans living in the U.S.

Memorial Mile honors fallen soldiers

WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

MADISON (WKOW) — Volunteers began setting up the annual Memorial Mile in Madison Saturday.

The tombstone display is in memory of U.S. soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq, recognized every year for Memorial Day weekend.

Members of Veterans for Peace and other volunteers put up nearly 6,800 tombstones along Atwood Avenue at Olbrich Park.

“We’ve lost 6,800 service personnel in Afghanistan and Iraq and what we want to do is show for the next week tombstones that represent those Americans who have been killed in those wars,” says coordinator John Fournelle.

The display stays up through Memorial Day until next Saturday.

Originally posted on WKOW.com.

2014 Memorial Mile at Olbrich Park

Chapter 25 will again erect the stunning Memorial Mile in Olbrich Park, Madison, along Atwood Avenue. This impressive and disturbing mile of over 6,000 tomb stones is in memory to the US soldiers whose lives were lost in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since the first mile was erected in 2007, the chapter has received constant positive feedback from those who observe the mile by walking the sidewalk or even while driving by. The mile is erected by volunteers led by Chapter members. Starting at 9am Saturday, May 24, 2014, the mile will take about two hours to install. It will remain in place until Saturday, May 31 when volunteers will remove the display.

Memorial Mile

2014 Memorial Day Program by Chapter 25, Madison Veterans for Peace

Madison Veterans for Peace will hold its annual Peace Rally at James Madison Park on Memorial Day.

The program begins at 1pm with musical selections from the band Old Cool.

The featured speaker is Nicole McCoy, U.S. Marine, who will speak on “Sexual Abuse and Rape in the Military”

Nicole McCoy is a 24 year old Marine Corps Veteran from Colby, WI. After joining the Corps in 2008 she was stated in Albany, GA where she deployed to Afghanistan. During her enlistment, she had experienced multiple assaults and rapes. During on investigation she was lied to about requirements for the sex offender registration, which eventually lead her to start the first and largest petition against the Military. Her petition was featured in Rolling Stone Magazine, Glamour Magazine online blog, interviews with Oprah, and Dan Rather. Nicole’s petition is asking for requirements to be changed when it comes to Military Sex Crime convictions, and asking for discharge papers to disclose any punishments one might have received while in the Military. Her petition has received just under 1/2 of a million signatures and still growing.

This years $1200 Madison High School Scholarship to attend Madison College will be awarded to Shamell Long’Homesly during the program.  Shamell is a student at Malcom Shabazz City High School and the winner of the 2014 James Allen Memorial Peace Scholarship.  (See more on scholarships from Chapter 25)

We hope you can join us at the park. In the event of rain, the program will be moved inside the Gates of Heaven facility at the park.

In The News

handcuffs
Thanks Steve Bray
- for standing up at the
Solidarity Singalong
- and getting your citation (and handcuffs) again.
Great photo!

http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/govt-and-politics/a-year-later-no-end-in-sight-for-capitol-crackdown/article_d9421fee-6ba1-544d-b5cb-91ff6c4e6fb5.html

…and thanks to Norm Aulabaugh, too – for his great letter to the editor in the Capitol Times – talking about Veterans – and the right to free speech.

http://host.madison.com/ct/news/opinion/mailbag/norman-aulabaugh-veterans-offended-by-arrest-of-capitol-singers

More thanks to Norm Aulabaugh his article on A Nation’s PTSD

http://host.madison.com/ct/news/opinion/mailbag/norman-aulabaugh-veterans-offended-by-arrest-of-capitol-singers

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VFP Madison Chapter 25

Veterans for Peace, Inc. (VFP) is a national non-profit 501(c)(3) educational and humanitarian organization dedicated to the abolishment of war. The Madison Chapter is named in honor of Clarence Kailin, long-time Madison peace activist and social reformer, who was a founding member. Clarence died in late 2009 at the age of 95. We honor him by carrying on his name and making efforts to establish a more peaceful and just nation.
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End All War demonstration, April 21, 2012, State Capitol (photo: Paul McMahon)

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