In my experience, our uniformed service members aren't asking for any special "deal" for their service. What they do expect is that we fulfill our pledge of medical care for them and their families. They are not looking for elite care. Very few will be looking for treatment by the proverbial "Park Avenue" practitioners.
The sad truth is that when TRICARE clients need medical treatment from the same people who woke up to the horrors of 9/11, they have to go "out of network" for treatment. As anyone who has had this experience knows, going "out of network" is a financial and emotional strain. First you must pay the practitioner for medical care, which is a burden for those with few financial resources, then you need to submit multiple complex documents, and in the end, you are uncertain of how much reimbursement will be allowed.
It is also true that New York City medical practitioners have little risk of being overrun by wounded warriors, even if all of them accepted the TRICARE plan. It would be a fitting and symbolic thank you if more practitioners in and around Ground Zero were to accept TRICARE as a recognition of the service of the few for the many.
Commentary by both the advocates labeled the right and the left mean little if our veterans cannot identify with the people they defend. It is no small irony that our "first soldier", George Washington, faced the same decision even while the beginning of our country was in grave doubt. He made it clear by saying: "... it must be laid down as a primary position and the basis of our (democratic) system, that every citizen who enjoys the protection of a free government owes not only a proportion of his property, but even his personal service to the defense of it." On this 11/11/11 let's see if we as Americans can return to that primary position.
Steve Brozak is a retired U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant colonel and president of WBB Securities, an independent broker-dealer and investment bank specializing in biotechnology, medical devices and pharmaceutical research.