In 1803 Captain Meriweather Lewis of the US Army led a platoon sized army unit up the Missouri River, over the Rocky Mountains and into the Columbia River basin. As preparation he had gotten some training in therapeutics with the father of American medicine, Dr.Benjamin Rush. Lewis treated gonorrhea and boils on the east side of the Rocky Mountains and added syphilis on the west side where the Indian maidens had been more exposed to the British..
One and two thirds centuries later I was pulled out of a residency and turned into a flight surgeon (as happened to Dr Ron Paul.) I was sent to Vietnam where I treated gonorrhea and little else. Day after day I faced seven to ten twenty year old draftees from my 1000 man Air Cavalry Squadron complaining of “the drip.” Most had gonorrhea, commonly called “clap.” This has an incubation period of two or three days and so the youngsters were still post coital. They were euphoric, puffed up and often quite proud of their peccadillo. A small minority had chlamydia, “the strain,” which has an incubation period of 5 to 7 days. These fellows were more troubled as the connection of the urethral discharge with sex was less clear. We needed enormous doses of penicillin for the clap.
The clap consumed most of the medical aid station’s resources. (Heroin addiction also became a medical issue, maybe a topic for later.) The command of a nearby battalion was clapped out after the New Year’s eve party hosted by some USO donut dollies. I treated one 19 year old 18 times in six months; he could get drunk and clap for 5 dollars. Clap was rampant in all of the Vietnam American armed forces. It had been there since the beginning of that conflict.
At Vietnam wide conferences of flight surgeons we talked about the huge size of the problem as well as speculated about possible penicillin resistance (It was.) against gonorrhea. My own treatment records showed that I treated at least 20% of the soldiers in my units for gonorrhea every month. Some medics had side practices in which they treated their buddies off the books in return for favors. I estimated that our incidence of gonorrhea, annualized, approached 300 percent.
The army was a foreign country for me and I treated non-medical affairs as so much froufrou. I signed anything. About 3 months into my tour I actually looked at a report that was to go up to the higher headquarters reporting on our incidence of diseases and medical activities. It said that we had 54 cases of gonorrhea, annualized about 65 percent, when it was actually in the hundreds. I objected to my clerk typist. “This is fraudulent! I can’t sign.” The typist calmly bade me to sign and that I’d already perjured myself twice. I signed. And so it went. (Did I mention that I have a long family history of cowardice?)
The next headquarters up and all the subsequent headquarters above them similarly adjusted the numbers to support the lie that our armed forces are highly moral. I looked up the officially reported annual incident of gonorrhea for our war in Vietnam and it was around 26%. Similar numbers were reported for all of our wars in the 20th century.
I was going to write this up as illustrating how our government lies to us but Libertarians assume that anyway. Quoting Howard Stern “Who cares?”
But maybe this becomes usable on Memorial Day when we honor our war dead. The armed forces report that they have difficulty recruiting soldiers.
No recruits, no deaths.
It occurred to me that reporting the truth could solve the recruitment problem.
Young Americans, especially men, are physical wrecks, obese, tattooed, lazy and not ambitious. They get that way in part because they see very few real men to imitate, are affronted by aggressive, shrill and domineering young women who outdo them in the nonsense peddled in our schools and they risk being accused of rape even after agreeing to consensual sex. It is a truism that young people are ever less likely to have had sexual intercourse. Young guys have been castrated and the women flaunt testosterone sufficient to make them cocky.
What would happen if these young men saw advertisements for enlisting in the armed forces emphasizing the likelihood of getting a venereal disease, implying rampant sex while in service? “Twenty five percent of our airmen in Turkiye get the clap every month.” “During your tour in Thailand you can earn $1500 per month, get laid and drunk for $20 AND there’s free treatment at your friendly TMC.” Even more chilling for the American Karens. “Rent a temporary wife in Korea. Maybe she’ll give you kids, a great homelife and become permanent.”
There would certainly be objections from the blue noses, but most of them sound crazy already and can be canceled. Public Health officials of covid fame and advocates of sexual re identification surgery, can’t object on the basis that they want to make people healthy. The armed forces promote sexual ambiguity, and the service members already acquire these infections in horrendous numbers, so there is no increased medical or disability costs.
The target audience, namely incels and depressed male college students would perk up, start seeing women more realistically and, I’d guess, line up at recruitment stations, maybe not to get the sex but rather to join a rebellion against the oppressive. It might be the only example in which telling the truth might advance a governmental goal.
But us Libertarians would be offended.