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Rita R. Simon: Health care, education for all will help keep us safe

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Health care, education for all will help keep us safe

Health care, education for all will help keep us safe

I had the pleasure of meeting U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, recently elected senator from Illinois, at a campaign event June 3 in Eau Claire. Sen. Duckworth is an Iraq war veteran who was deployed to Iraq in 2004 as a helicopter pilot, one of the few combat positions available to women at that time. She was severely injured when an RPG hit her Blackhawk helicopter, causing her to lose both of her legs and severely damaging her arm. Sen. Duckworth has also served in high positions in both the Illinois and United States Departments of Veteran Affairs. When she speaks about some of the challenges the military faces, she speaks with knowledge and authority.

Sen. Duckworth stated in her talk on Saturday, that for every 100 eligible recruits to the U. S. military, 71 percent end up being disqualified for these three reasons:

Having health conditions, such as asthma, obesity, etc. that have not been treated.

Not being able to pass the 6th-grade-level reading and math parts of the pre-enlistment testing.

Having a criminal record, usually for minor offenses, frequently drug related.

We seem, as a country, to be willing to constantly boost the budget on military and defense spending, but then cut and squeeze funding to the bare minimum for health care, education, and mental health and addiction services.

The mainstay of the military is the human beings who give their services every day to protect our freedoms and to help keep America strong. To keep our military strong, we need healthy, educated Americans who are willing and able to serve.

We need a strong health care system that covers all Americans from pre-birth onward. We need a quality education system where all Americans in all schools have equal opportunity to excel and achieve their highest good. We need more treatment program access for families with mental health and drug addiction issues so that the revolving door of mental illness and addiction stops for their children.

Quality health care, education, and mental health and addiction service availability for all Americans will help keep us safe and free! Thank you, Sen. Duckworth, for these insights. Thank you for your service in the past, and for your continuing service to the American people.

Rita R. Simon, M.D.

Chippewa Falls


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