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U.S. military needs public health workers.

While I completely agree with Dr. Thomas Washburn's endorsement of mandatory national service in the August issue of The Nation's Health, I oppose his call for APHA to disassociate itself from the recruitment of military public health professionals.

Dr. Washburn fails to appreciate the inherent ethical danger in maintaining a military medical service separately trained and professionally isolated from its civilian peers. Since the 1973 advent of the all-volunteer military, the cohorts of new military physicians look increasingly less like the national pool of medical graduates they are drawn from--geographically, academically and ideologically.

The establishment of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, a separate "military" medical school, has accelerated this trend. This institutional acculturation combined with lengthy service commitments may cause conflict between the dual roles of physician and soldier while placing undue emphasis on military career viability. The military's rationale for operating the no-cost medical university is the perceived difficulty in recruiting physicians from civilian institutions.

Banishing military public health recruitment from APHA events and publications publications will deprive the uniformed services of access to the broadest possible pool of public health students and professionals. The most likely outcome will be the military's increased reliance on the non-accredited MPH program at the military medical school, resulting in a narrower spectrum of public health personnel further isolated from the APHA community.

I fail to see how a more educationally and ideologically narrow military public health work force is beneficial to our nation or the other nations where it operates. I prefer that future military public health officers receive rigorous, mind-broadening educations at accredited civilian schools of public health and bring the values of those institutions into the military medical community rather than being trained at an unaccredited program without the benefit of civilian interaction or influence.

Stephen K. Trynosky,

JD, MPH

Washington, D.C.

Letters policy for The Nation's Health: The Nation's Health accepts letters to the editor from APHA members and readers. For more on how to submit a letter, visit www.apha.org/publications/tnh/about.htm.
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Title Annotation:LETTERS: Personal perspectives on public health
Author:Trynosky, Stephen K.
Publication:The Nation's Health
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Oct 1, 2007
Words:341
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