In a partisan atmosphere that extends beyond Washington, supporting our troops is one thing that brings this country together. But few people probably know about a tremendous disservice being done to our military men and women; by volunteering to serve, they lose fundamental rights granted to every other American.
An archaic U.S. Supreme Court ruling from 1950 prevents active duty military from holding the government accountable for non-combat related injuries. This decision, known as the Feres doctrine, strips countless servicemembers of their right to seek justice through our civil justice system, and as a result, many of our troops are receiving subpar medical care. It boils down to this. If they are injured because of malpractice or negligent care in a military facility, they cannot sue no matter how bad the injuries.
Without access to the courts there is no accountably for care providers.
One of the scariest consequences of this ruling is that we do not know how large this problem is because many of these issues go unreported. Most Americans probably have no idea of such a discrepancy and would be shocked by it. But as Wendy Innes wrote for the Independent Voter Network, one population that is well aware are the care providers themselves:
Most military doctors and civilians working in military facilities are well aware that they are protected from being sued for substandard care. In some cases, this is what drew practitioners to employment within the military system to begin with.
It is inexcusable that our service men and women, if injured by a preventable medical error are denied the same protections that all other citizens enjoy, and Congress has failed to address this travesty more than once.
To learn more about how the Feres doctrine affects our service members read the story of Sargent Carmelo Rodriguez here.