There are many casualties of war. Unfortunately, some of them include animals. For years, Department of Defense personnel have intentionally injured pigs and goats so that medical personnel can use them to simulate battlefield wounds.
Dogs, cats and primates were used in what was classified as live tissue training until a public outcry eliminated them from combat training purposes. It's time to end the use of other animals as well. Medical researchers have made great strides in creating life-like simulators that mimic the human body. These simulators have proven to be highly effective, and there is no longer a need to harm live animals.
Most Advanced Trauma Life Support classes have entirely replaced animals, with the approval of the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma. Yet the Pentagon continues this unfortunate practice. At Fort Bragg alone, more than 300 goats are used and killed each month for medical trauma training. Is this really how we want our taxpayer dollars spent?
The Washington Post reported in February that Congress has weighed in on this issue. As part of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013, Pentagon officials must present a report on how the military plans to completely phase out using animals to train medics. The Post noted that this "marks the first time Congress has ordered the Pentagon to provide a detailed plan to start relying less on animals and more on simulators." I am a staunch supporter of the military, and I believe that our troops deserve the most advanced medical care when they are on the front lines. But would it not be more humane to train medics on simulators that are based on the human body rather than defenseless animals? Goats and pigs do not have the anatomy or physiology of a human. How can using live animals possibly add anything to a medic's training, besides the horror arising from injuring or killing them?
Congress can stop this inhumane practice. Many of the countries that form the North Atlantic Treaty Organization have banned the use of live animals in medical training. How can we say that we are the most civilized nation on Earth if we condone it? Let's demand that Congress continue its investigation into these unwarranted procedures by our military. Contact your local representative or senator and ask that our medics be given the most up-to-date simulators available to train them for their critical role in combat. Pigs and goats belong on a farm, not on the front lines.