Home > Uncategorized > DADT and UCMJ, and Health Care for First Responders

DADT and UCMJ, and Health Care for First Responders

The U.S. Senate passed legislation the other day eliminating Bill Clinton’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy of gays in the military. Personally, since my military days are long passed, I couldn’t care less. I don’t have a dog in this fight, but I agree with the late Barry Goldwater, who said, “You don’t have to be straight to shoot straight.”

The policy shift was inevitable given the clamoring from the left and their allies, but it also comes with a number of questions. All members of the military are governed by the Uniformed Code of Military Justice. This is a combination criminal code and procedural code for the governance of the military, and the keeping of order in such a large group.

The UCMJ has this to say about homosexual behavior in Subchapter X, Section 925, Article 125:

SODOMY

(a) Any person subject to this chapter who engages in unnatural carnal copulation with another person of the same or opposite sex or with an animal is guilty of sodomy. Penetration , however slight, is sufficient to complete the offense.

(b) Any person found guilty of sodomy shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

So now that DADT is dead, will we see more, or fewer prosecutions for homosexual behavior? This may be a case that demonstrates the law of unintended consequences. The UCMJ makes no distinction about “on-duty” or “off-duty” conduct. The soldier, sailor, airmen, or Marine is always governed by the UCMJ. Therefore, even behavior while on leave, in whatever location, is always subject to the strictures of article 125.

I suppose the question then becomes whether or not the President will amend the UCMJ to eliminate article 125?

As to health care for first responders, there has been an inordinate amount of hand-wringing and name-calling over the bill that’s stalled in Congress. The bill’s ostensible purpose is to provide health care to the firemen, policemen, and paramedics who responded to the islamic terrorist attack on New York City in 2001. Before I continue, let me say this. I am a New Yorker, and I come from a family of New Yorkers. We have given more than our pro rata share of first responders, namely cops, to the city. We have fought in every war this country has had, going back to the French-Indian conflicts before the Revolution. Every generation has provided military men, policemen, and firemen. I am a veteran, and my brother was a cop.

Having said that, I have questions about the wisdom of the “James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.” That is the name of the bill that the Senate will vote on, likely as early as today. The bill is estimated to cost some 6 billion dollars, and some senators have indicated a disinclination to vote for it based on the inability to pay for it. That is certainly a valid concern, but hardly of any import to a congress that has pushed us into a 14 trillion dollar national debt, and continues its reckless deficit spending.

My questions revolve around efficacy and justice. First, efficacy. The health care bill proposes to spend 6 billion dollars on medical treatment to help our injured first responders. But before it does that, the bill requires the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to form the World Trade Center Health Program. In turn, the WTC program is required to : (1) implement a quality assurance program; (2) establish the WTC Health Program Scientific/Technical Advisory Committee; (3) establish the WTC Responders Steering Committee and the WTC Community Program Steering Committee; (4) provide for education and outreach on services under the WTC program; (5) provide for the uniform collection of data related to WTC-related health conditions; (6) conduct research on physical and mental health conditions that may be related to the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center; and (7) extend and expand arrangements with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to provide for the World Trade Center Health Registry.

Wow! And, buried in there somewhere, the WTC program is also to provide: (1) medical monitoring and treatment benefits to eligible emergency responders and recovery and cleanup workers who responded to the World Trade Center terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001; and (2) initial health evaluation, monitoring, and treatment benefits to residents and other building occupants and area workers who were directly impacted and adversely affected by such attacks.

So, in addition to all the committees, the bill provides health care benefits for people who lived, worked, and otherwise occupied the area. Hardly just a tribute to our fallen heroes, eh?

Which actually lead into the question of justice. There is a firefighter in California who is dying of mesothelioma, a pernicious form of lung cancer. All parties agree that he contracted this painful and fatal disease in the line of duty, running in and out of buildings that were on fire, and loaded with asbestos. The U.S. Senate is unaware of this man’s sacrifice, and he will die, unsung, unhonored, and in debt. What is the difference between this firefighter, and the men who ran into the WTC? None at all. And yet the Congress throws billions at one, and not the other. And this violates the fundamental principal of justice, to treat like things alike, and unlike things differently.

We need to have a coherent policy to deal with those we ask to do our dirty work. This bill doesn’t address that issue.

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