April 06, 2009

U.S. Army upholds medical standards

The Baltimore Sun's investigative article about military medicine contained omissions and inaccuracies from the headline to the end ("Untested in Battle," March 29).

This article simply dismisses tens of thousands of real achievements over the past seven years. Badly injured men and women are alive today because of military medical treatment.

The survival rate of service members injured in combat is 90 percent. This has been accomplished despite increasingly more destructive weapons wielded by an adaptive enemy and wounds unparalleled in civilian trauma medicine.

We believe armored vehicles, body armor, better training of all warriors in self- and buddy-aid, better-trained medics, faster helicopter rescues and rapid evacuations out of the theater of war have all helped lower our killed-in-action and died-of-wounds statistics.

The article also failed to accurately characterize the Army's and the joint medical force's commitment to saving soldiers' lives through the best-tested methods available to us.

We do not conduct emergency trauma-care experiments on soldiers in war. We collect real-time data from the theater of war and analyze it to identify factors that contribute to treatment success or failure.

And with the exception of the recent removal of an FDA-approved product designed to stop bleeding, the Army has not aborted any new treatments.

The nation expects Army medics and Navy corpsmen to save lives on the battlefield using the finest techniques, best research and highest professional values. And I am proud to affirm that we live up to this expectation every day.

Dr. Eric B. Schoomaker, Falls Church, Va.

The writer is a lieutenant general and the surgeon general of the U.S. Army.

Victory for forces of censorship

So the heavy-handed supporters of movie censorship and the enemies of freedom of expression (i.e., state Sen. Andrew P. Harris and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller) have gotten their way by bullying the University of Maryland, College Park into canceling a showing of a film that would have been paid for with student fees ("Senate threat helps kill UM plan to show porn," April 3).

So, OK, they think they know what's good for everyone, and they've shown they have the power to trample other people's rights.

But do they really think they're going to prevent the showing of this film at some off-campus location in College Park or even unadvertised showings in the rooms of students?

Maybe they favor censoring the Internet, too.

Big Brother, anyone?

Kenneth A. Stevens, Savage

Forgive the debts of disaster victims

Forgiving loans to students is not very good public policy ("Letting students off the hook," April 1). Let me suggest a better and fairer alternative: Forgive federal disaster-relief loans.

I lost my house to Tropical Storm Isabel in 2003. Before the flood, my mortgage would have been paid off the next year.

I rebuilt with a disaster loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration, and now, in my 60s, I will be repaying Uncle Sam with my retirement accounts for many years to come.

I would much rather have the ability to redirect my monthly payments to buy goods and services in the local economy, and I bet there are thousands more people like me from New Orleans to the Dakotas and beyond who would love to be part of the stimulus solution.

Giving us disaster victims a chance to pump up the economy is one bailout that would make more sense than the ones I've seen from Washington so far.

And, don't forget, students are not victims; they have their entire careers and earnings potential ahead of them to repay their loans.

David Hash, Middle River

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