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12 things you might not know about the United States military

stars and stripes designUpstate‘s division chief of trauma, critical care and burns is Army veteran William Marx, DO. He recently gave a presentation about the military to medical colleagues that included these dozen pieces of information:

William Marx, DO

William Marx, DO

* Of the five branches of the military, the Army is the oldest, founded in 1775. Next are the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard and then the Air Force, after World War II. What percentage of America‘s military makes up each force? Army, 37 percent. Navy and Air Force, 23 percent each. Marine Corps, 13 percent. Coast Guard, 3 percent.

* Three-quarters of 1 percent of the population of America has served in the military.

* The president is commander of all branches of the military. However, Congress determines the size of the force and is the only body that can declare war.

* This year, more United States college students will study abroad (300,000) than enlist in the military (200,000.)

* To be a veteran, one must have served six consecutive months. Being in the reserves and serving multiple shorter periods of time does not count.

* There are eight categories of veterans, and not all are eligible to receive all of their care through the Veterans Affairs  medical system.

* Women comprise about 15 percent of all but one of the branches. The Marines are 5 percent female.

* Ninety percent of enlisted men and women are high school graduates, and 90 percent of the officer corps have a bachelor's degree.

* Officers and enlisted personnel are not allowed to fraternize, in order to keep the chain of command intact and to avoid any appearance of favoritism, especially during combat situations.

* The military justice system is quite different from the civilian justice system, and the Uniform Code of Military Justice has jurisdiction over all members of the military services. Civilian rules do not apply in the military.

* The incidence of disease in the military is the same as for the general population. That applies to physical illness as well as mental illness. Military training does not cause mental illness. Marx says mental illness only seems to occur at a higher rate among members of the military because the military population is small by comparison. “But per capita, the incidence is not any higher.”

* In war, common medical illnesses (such as appendicitis, ectopic pregnancies, influenza, pneumonia) cause the loss of more soldiers than combat injuries.

Upstate Health Fall 2017 coverThis article appears in the fall 2017 issue of Upstate Health magazine.