Chair Force Engineer

Monday, April 09, 2007

Hell's Pass Hospital

The recent scandal regarding shoddy conditions on the Walter Reed campus came as a shock to many Americans. For people who are on active duty service with the US Armed Forces, the surprise was very muted. Even the military acts very cynically towards the military health care system and the Veterans' Administration.

Illustration of that point came for me today when getting my vaccination record updated. They say that I need a blood test to look for the Chicken Pox antibody. I was able to document that I had Chicken Pox as an adolescent, but they gave me some bullshit excuse about "all personnel born after 1980 have to have this test, regardless of documented history." Apparently there was something magical about all babies born after 1980, as they all need blood tests despite having contracted Chicken Pox back in the days when Ninja Turtles ruled the airwaves (waitaminit... the Ninja Turtles still rule the field of children's entertainment...)

So I go to the lab where an airman is supposed to draw my blood. He sticks me in the right arm and nothing flows. "I forgot to tell you to keep your arm straight," he says in apology. Then he sticks me in the left arm, and the bleeding stops almost as soon as it begins. So I got stuck twice by an airman who couldn't successfully take a routine blood sample.

I think the military health care system is best summed up by something my program manager once said:
My brother is one of these people who believes in socialized medicine. I told him, 'You've had to deal with the Air Force medical system for your entire adult life. Isn't that enough to scare you away?'