Is anthrax's cure worse than the disease?

By Arthur Allen

By Letters to the Editor

Published October 31, 2000 8:55AM (EST)

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I am a member of the Air National Guard. I'm not a pilot, but I am essential ground crew. I feel terrible for the pilots and other airmen who have become ill and who link their illness to the anthrax vaccine. However, I cannot agree with all those who are leaving the service to avoid it. When I joined the service, I took an oath of enlistment. In that oath, I swore to protect and defend my country and to follow the orders of those appointed over me. The oath did not include a clause that if the government does something I don't like, I get to abandon my duties. The oath did not include a clause that fertility treatments take priority over my sacred duty to my country.

I realize that the anthrax shot is a risk. However, when I am mobilized, I am accepting the risk of being shot, bombed, nuked and any of the other horrible things that can happen in a war. I know many airmen who have taken the shot and experienced nothing worse than a sore arm. I take my duty seriously -- I knew when I started that I would have to make sacrifices for my country. The possible risk of an unforeseen consequence to the government's attempt to protect me is simply another of those sacrifices. My country -- my people -- is more important.

-- Name withheld at writer's request

I decided that after 24 years in the military, I was going to leave because of the mandatory anthrax shots. So in 1999 I threw in the towel. I also work for the Department of Defense as a civil servant. Ironically, I work for the agency that procures the serum. I also am a private pilot who likes to fly and I don't want to become terminally ill for any reason.

I, for one, am appalled at how the sickly and terminally ill vets of Vietnam and the Gulf War were treated. Because of them I give our military a vote of "nolo contendere." My oldest son just completed six years in the National Guard. He said that he will never, under any circumstances (other than the U.S. being invaded), fight in today's military. He said that there are too many people with no common sense. My youngest daughter wants to join -- I am vehemently against it. The bottom line is that our leaders don't give a damn about the little guy. As far as they are concerned it is all about the career, next star, retirement and money.

-- Frank Hudman

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