Opinion | Poker: America’s Military and its Societal Effects

Deployment of U.S. Army Paratroopers assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. (Getty Images)

The Chips Up For Grabs

There is no denying that joining the military can offer individuals with support and important opportunities. There are countless benefits that uniformed personnel are given, one being any dental or health care being covered at an extremely minimal cost. Most Active Duty personnel take part in a service called TRICARE, which has numerous plans such as TRICARE Prime (a range of doctors located within a specific network), TRICARE Select (paying a small copay every time you attend a doctor’s visit while not requiring referral from primary care physicians), and TRICARE Young Adult (covers adult children who have aged out of their sponsor’s regular tricare coverage). TRICARE also has a dental program, which costs as low as $11.00 a month for single dependents and $30 for family coverage.

The Gamble of the Game

Within the amount of benefits also comes an extreme amount of risks that can leave lasting effects against uniformed personnel. For instance, despite what branch you are in, there is always a chance that you or your platoon can be deployed to a dangerous area. Although the 60% of individuals deployed is not a relatively high percentage, of that 60%, 10% are deployed to a combat zone, which in itself causes numerous hazards for the veterans involved. These hazards include mental illness, which is also worsened due to the lack of care within the Veterans Affairs department. Of the veterans involved in the Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, 11–20 out of 100 veterans were diagnosed with PTSD, and 11% of all veterans have depression. The Veteran Affairs department is not a large help with combating mental illness within the military either, as numerous veterans have stated that they were simply prescribed pills in order to deal with their issues. This is highly ineffective and dangerous as some mental illnesses could be worsened by the integration of pills in their daily routine. Additionally, if not regulated, these pills can lead to an addiction or even suicide — all while these issues could be fixed with specialized therapy.

Even programs with proven track records of helping homeless veterans are being under-utilized. (Getty Images)

Where do we go from here?

As we have discussed throughout this article, joining the military is simply a gamble — either with your physical health, mental health, or winning with a cash bonus and free college. Because civilians and veterans live in two different worlds, it is hard to bring awareness to these issues, but defeating the issues presented above calls for the necessity of conversation in both worlds — not just in the military realm. Currently, there is an act trying to be passed by the name of The Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevention Act, and this act would move crimes such as murder, manslaughter, and negligent homicide under a new system that would require defense secretaries to improve physical security in military installations (i.e. locks, cameras) and increasing training for commanders and other members on sexual assault. In addition to this, there are many organizations that provide assistance to Veterans, such as Protect Our Defenders, the Military Rape Crisis Center, Lone Survivor Foundation, PTSD Alliance, and numerous others as well. Though there is much work to be done, this is just the beginning of fixing conditions in the United States Army.

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Youth Upholding Democracy

Youth Upholding Democracy

A group of students working to increase civic participation among our fellow young people. https://www.youthupholdingdemocracy.com/