Service, Survival, Memory
Here at DSS we talk a fair amount about survival…mostly surviving diseases that can get you when you least expect them to.
Each Memorial Day we have the unfortunate duty to recognize–and honor–all those who DIDN’T survive…in past wars as well as the seemingly unending list of wars that follow us into the present and the future. We continue to make the kinds of wars in which humans kill each other.
We also continue to declare war on diseases, with–or without–the intent of eliminating them.
The sacrifices our Veterans continue to make in the ongoing saga of war are numerous. To those who have sacrificed their lives, we honor your memories. Many more of you who have sacrificed arms, legs, faces, AND invisible things like pieces of your minds, psyches and personalities return home with your own private hells…and unfortunately find little more than lip service to address the ongoing plague of posttraumatic stress syndrome (PTSS).
We can’t bring them back. And we can’t heal their PTSS overnight.
However, perhaps calling attention to the oral health of our men and women in uniform is strangely appropriate here. After all, living in war zones and not being in optimal health could pose a real disadvantage…and, it’s well understood that if one’s oral health is compromised, general health tends to follow the same course.
Why, then, did a Department of Defense (DoD) survey report published in Military Medicine in 20111 categorize 52.4% of military recruits (all branches) as DoD Dental Readiness Class 3 (which is defined in the 2009 edition of an Army Field Manual (Army+Report+(2009)+Impact+of+Dental+Readiness (1)2) as “patients who require urgent or emergent dental treatment”? This, compared to 47.5% of 2000 DoD recruits who were Class 3, up nearly 5%.1 This manual also details the potential impact of “dental readiness” on military units, and the impracticality of implementing dental emergency care in active deployment scenarios.
So…without dwelling too much on the multitude of hazards of military deployment that could hamper a recruit’s return home…maybe survival could be enhanced by adopting a more proactively preventive stance toward increased dental readiness (like making sure mouths are combat-ready BEFORE deployment…), and decreased numbers of soldiers battling dental emergencies in addition to the enemy? Just a thought…
Until then…please come home alive, intact, and NOT a memory.
- Leiendecker TM, Martin G, Moss DL. 2008 Department of Defense (DoD) recruit oral health survey. Mil Med. 2011 Aug;176(8 Suppl):1-44.
- US Dept of the Army. DENTAL SERVICE SUPPORT OPERATIONS Field Manual No. 4-02.19. In: Army, editor. Washington, DC: Headquarters, Department of the Army; 2009.