Billboards snipe at Fort Sam’s medic-training goats
“Goats make lousy soldiers,” say the billboards at three San Antonio locations, depicting a goat in an Army utility uniform chewing on several blades of grass.
A national nonprofit group called the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine put them up thris week to attack the Army Medical Command’s use of goats in combat medic training at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston.
The Army Medical Command maintains that “live tissue” training has helped produce the best-trained medics ever and contributed to a record survival rate among wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan of 92 percent, higher than the four out of five who survived in Vietnam. More than 2,400 soldiers used goats and pigs as part of their instruction in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2017, the command said.
RELATED: Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and other celebrities who trained at Lackland Air Force Base
The campaign, which has the support of actors from the TV series “M*A*S*H,” reignited a decades-old battle to end the use of animals in military research and training.
A press release quoted Mike Farrell, a former Marine who played Capt. B.J. Hunnicutt, an Army surgeon in the Korean War in the series, and Jamie Farr, who played the cross-dressing Cpl. Max Klinger.
“In the years since we stopped filming ‘M*A*S*H,’ the U.S. military has upgraded its training, its tactics, even its uniforms. Why not modernize its medical training?” Farrell said, according to the release.
Everyone agrees the use of animals for medic training is declining, but every military branch except the Coast Guard still does it.
The bleeding “elicits a more realistic stress response in the medics and may help them control their own stress,” one Canadian study said, though many such studies have found no significant difference in training with live tissue or simulators.
RELATED: Basic training through the years: vintage photos reflect Air Force recruit life in San Antonio
A doctor with the Physicians Committee, former Army Maj. Robert DeMuth, a Gulf War I veteran, said the military service branches still use a total of 7,800 animals a year for live-tissue training even though it’s not done under realistic scenarious. There are significant anatomical differences between humans and animals, he said.
DeMuth said he’d use animals if he believed they helped training.
“I would trade 7,800 animals for one soldier’s life,” he said.
Read the full story at ExpressNews.com.