Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz on Tuesday pledged to not provide gluten-free meals to the military if elected president.
Appealing to military voters in South Carolina, Cruz said in a speech aboard the USS Yorktown that he'd wipe out cases of "political correctness" in order to spend resources on building a stronger military. Cases of "political correctness" include equipping the military with dietary options for those who suffer from gastrointestinal disorders like celiac disease, he suggested.
“That’s why the last thing any commander should need to worry about is the grades he is getting from some plush-bottomed Pentagon bureaucrat for political correctness or social experiments -- or providing gluten-free MREs," Cruz said, according to CNN, referring to ready-to-eat-meals.
So. Celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder in which the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine and makes a person intolerant to gluten, is a real, existing condition.
When left untreated, the disorder can contribute to a host of other health problems, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation, including Type I diabetes, anemia, infertility and miscarriage, migraines, intestinal cancers, and neurological conditions like epilepsy.
So what happens in the short term, when someone with a gluten sensitivity eats the stuff? According to published personal accounts, really bad things.
"If I eat gluten by accident, I get very sick, and have even ended up in the hospital, dangerously dehydrated from vomiting and diarrhea," Joanna Schroeder, who was diagnosed with celiac in 1996, wrote last year in Good Housekeeping. A spokesman for the Department of Defense told Time that gluten-free meal offerings differ between military branches.
For one percent of the population, the decision to go gluten-free is made out of anything but political correctness. It is for survival. To support a robust military, Cruz might want to reconsider what he intends to serve the people who serve our country. They deserve to have all they need to thrive, themselves.
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