The use of stimulants by the military

Regarding the Aug. 9 article "Military looks to drugs for battle readiness": It is disturbing to read about the US military advocating and using drugs to enhance performance, especially at a time when the Olympics and professional sports are trying hard to ban drugs and school programs are trying to teach children to "just say no."

If high-ranking officers are promoting such drug use, they are subjecting the pilots, sailors, and soldiers to a terrible medical experiment. These are people, not machines, and, therefore, any such drug use is abuse.

I hope the military will reconsider its drug policy. People need to fine tune their endurance, alertness, and stamina through honest efforts mentally, physically, and spiritually. There would be no bad effects from this type of practice, only healthier, happier, safer, more balanced people – who can function well whether in battle or at home.
Joy Hinman
Turner Valley, Alberta

Your article "Military looks to drugs for battle readiness" claims the pattern of drug use goes back at least to the early days of the Vietnamese operation. In fact, many World War II bomber crew members also used the stuff routinely to keep alert during long missions. A trip from England to Berlin and back was no lap around the jogging track. I never saw any overt abuse, but some guys experienced longer-lasting effects than others did, and adjusted their usage accordingly.

As a crew member on a B-24 bomber, I appreciated the extra help in staying sharp during boring periods before getting near the area where enemy fighters were waiting and flak started flying up to greet you.
Art Darwin
Morganton, N.C.

Your article makes the unattributed assertion that an Air Force pilot's refusal to use prescription stimulants during long missions can hurt his or her career. On the contrary, the use of so-called "go pills" is completely voluntary and up to the pilots themselves.

In fact, the dextroamphetamine ("go pills") informed-consent letter signed by every aircrew member who might potentially use the drugs specifically states, "I understand that my refusal to take dextroamphetamine will not result in any penalty, punishment, loss of benefits or adverse action of any type."

Stimulants are just one of many options Air Force pilots have to combat fatigue during long flights – and often the one least used. Our pilots are well trained and extremely competent. They are the best judges of what actions they need to take to maintain their combat edge. We will continue to respect and value that judgment. To say otherwise is a disservice to them.
USAF Maj. Gen. Carrol Chandler
Langley, Va.

Personal responsibility and 'fast food'

In response to your Aug. 8 article "Fast- food restaurants face legal grilling": Should fast-food outlets be sued? Absolutely not. Even the fact that tobacco users have won court battles is absurd – anyone who continued to use tobacco products after the government-mandated health warnings appeared on packaging has certainly forfeited any right to legal action against the industry. Ditto for fast-food consumers.

I love a good, juicy burger as much as the next guy, but the operatives here are self-discipline and laziness. It is much cheaper to consume a healthy diet, but it also takes time and effort. In a society geared toward instant gratification, responsibility for individual decisions has disappeared, and when things go wrong, we whine that it is someone else's fault. When will taking responsibility for one's own decisions and actions again be the norm?
Leslie de Beaux
Spring Creek, Nev.

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