Medical/Deployability

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Because men and women in the military are subject to deployment and potential combat at all times, medical issues and the ability to deploy are matters of national security that Congress must consider before voting to repeal the 1993 law:

CMR Analysis: Higher Non-Deployability Rates Due to HIV Infection

This an excerpt of a book chapter by CMR President Elaine Donnelly titled “Defending the Culture of the Military,” published in May 2010 by the Air Force University Press as part of a book titled Attitudes Are Not Free: Thinking Deeply about Diversity in the U.S. Armed Forces. Footnotes are in sequence but different from the original text, which begins on page 249, linked above.

Non-deployability of HIV-Positive Personnel

Advocates of gays in the military consider concerns about the non-deployability of HIV-positive personnel to be a taboo subject.1 Nevertheless, as this author in testimony before the House Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee, responsible officials who make policy for the military should give serious consideration to all consequences of repealing the 1993 law.

To the greatest extent possible, the armed forces try to reduce or eliminate any behavior, or the propensity for behavior, which elevates risks of survival for any service member. Congress has recognized that all personnel fighting in a close combat environment may be exposed to the blood of their colleagues, and all are potential blood donors for each other. Persons found to be HIV-positive, therefore, are not eligible for induction into the military.

If serving members are diagnosed as HIV-positive, regulations require that they be retained for as long as they are physically able. The military provides appropriate medical care, but HIV-positive personnel are not eligible for deployment overseas.

An examination of military HIV nondeployability cases shows that since the passage of Section 654, Title 10, the incidence of HIV servicewide has trended downward.4 Reasons for the trend are not clear, but it is reasonable to expect that if the law is repealed and great numbers of men having sex with men are inducted into the military,5 the line indicating nondeployable personnel who are HIV-positive probably would trend upward.

Given the officially recognized correlation between homosexual conduct and HIV infection, it is reasonable to expect that repeal of the law could increase the number of troops who require medical benefits for many years but cannot be deployed. At a time when multiple deployments are putting great stress on the volunteer force, Congress should not make a major change in policy that could increase the number of non-deployable personnel.