11 July 2005

So this is what our tax dollars pay for?

So, despite what my previous post claimed, I did not spend my entire lunch break goofing off. However, instead of working through lunch with my food at my desk, as I usually do, I decided to sit in my car under a tree, listen to the news and eat. However, I am actually sorry I did so, now. You see, one of the few stations we can get on base is NPR, and frankly, I could not stomach the drivel coming through my radio - I ended up cutting my lunch short.

What could cause this disgust? The " Peabody Award-winning weekday magazine of contemporary arts and issues," Fresh Air, with Terry Gross. If you feel like being frustrated and annoyed, read on...

-Today, Ms. Gross had Dr. Francis Dufrayne as a guest. The good Dr. is a gastroenterologist and a Navy reservist (CAPT-type). This sparked my interest because my father is also a gastrointerologist (yes, there are two ways to spell it - it is the 'GI' tract after all), and used to tell me that if he was still part of the Public Health Service (the folks that run the NIH - think Surgeon General), his equivalent rank would mean I would have to saulte him. This usually elicited a snort from me.

Dr. Dufrayne, however, was recently called up and sent to Ramadi with his reserve unit, at the same time his son, an active duty Marine CAPT was sent to Iraq.

In my mind, this scenario opened up a host of potentially interesting questions, such as:
-How does one transition from being a medical specialist to a battlefield doc dealing with trauma and triage, with little to no work up time?
-What was the nature of your facilites there? (He was with his unit, not in a hospital or med facility)
-Did you get a chance to judge how the Iraqi medical community is recovering from the hostilities?

Were any such questions asked? Well, for the first half of the show (remember, I stopped listneing after that), no, nothing so insightful was asked. In fact, as a military member myself, I can say I was fairly insulted by the lines of questioning, and what they insinuated. I will say Dr. Dufrayne attempted to answer as honestly and honorably as possible, but it is hard to reply to implied slights. To wit, a sampling of the questions:

(all paraphrased, as I am by no means a stenographer, and shorthand is not my speciality)

Terry Gross: Why, after your enlistment was over, and you were already a doctor, would you rejoin the Navy??? (Yes, that emphasis was in the question. Complete disbelief)
Dr. D: The Navy did good things for me. It was a positive force in my life, and I wanted to pass that along to others.

TG: Did you have to deal with a lot of stress with the members of your unit?
DD: When we were working up at Port Hueneme there was some stress, as we were tense about going on deployment. But once we were in Iraq, we were focused on the mission, so there were not many stress-related problems. (Emphasis mine)

TG: Did you have to play therapist a lot to determine if ailments were real or stress related? (not letting the stress-angle go)
DD: Yes, I suppose, if someone kept coming to me again and again. (trying to be diplomatic)

TG: Did you ever have to prescribe sleeping pills to help troops deal with the stress? (Yup, determined to tell a story of over-stressed, soon-to-be PTSD-having troops)
DD: No. (He said a lot more than just "no", but it was all a polite way to say, "Are you stupid?")

TG: Did you have many troops attempt to 'play' you, and pretend they were ill when they weren't (basically malingering).
DD: There was a very small percentage, and I tried to deal with those informally. (So, not really, but thanks for asking)

By now, you might see why I was getting so angry listening to this arrogant, confident-in-her-own-opinion, made without research, "interviewer". To expand a little more:
There were several instances of Ms. Gross stating, "I know that..." regarding such wonderful topics as: Troops having diarrhea due to stress, troops "messing themselves" (her words) when first encountering combat, etc etc. And where did she get this certain knowledge? She didn't say, which leads me to believe that she has been reading too many combat novellas, and assuming they apply to real life and Iraq. How did Dr. D respond? By saying, "I suppose I would tell them," or, "I might say," which says to me it didn't happen, but hypothetically this is how he would handle such an occurance.

Frankly, this pathetic attempt to paint our warfighters as traumatized babes-in-the-battlefield is ridiculous and bespeaks a complete lack of knowledge of our armed forces. From my own experiences, yes, there was stress. But, on the few occasions when we thought, or worse, knew, or lives could be on the line, there was ZERO panic. That is why we train like mad. So when the chips are down, our reactions are automatic. Now, there were a few times, when all was said and done, and the danger past, that we did indeed take a deep breath and look at each other and say, "Holy S#!t, that was close." But that was it.

So please, Ms. Gross, take the time to learn a little about your subjects before you interrogate them. Or think up more pertinent and interesting questions. Either way, prove that you are worth the tax dollars that a fight in Congress just earned you. Sheesh.

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