Physicians can show support of our troops by accepting TRICARE

LETTER — Posted April 4, 2005

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More than 1,500 American troops have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and many more than that number have been injured so badly they could not be sent back to duty.

Military families are under tremendous stress. They are not responsible for the policies that sent them there, but they bear the burden while their lives have been disrupted. Almost 50% of the troops are reservists and members of the National Guard. Many of these families have lost their traditional employer-associated health insurance and rely solely upon TRICARE. The active-duty troops have only TRICARE as well, and often these families live far from military medical facilities.

I see decals on cars that exhort us to support our troops. I often wonder what those people have done in support. We, as physicians, can do something. We can see those covered by TRICARE, regardless of reimbursement and red tape.

In my opinion, it is a privilege and an honor to relieve some of their stress by providing them with medical care. I understand that the Defense Dept. is working to make our participation more inviting, but government change moves slowly while the need remains. "Support your troops" by supporting them and their families.

David B. Kessler, MD, Takoma Park, Md

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2005/04/04/edlt0404.htm.

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