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The Health of American Exceptionalism


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During the period in our nation's history that established our position in the world as an economic leader, Ellis Island saw over 12 million new people in search of the American dream. Most look to that small island fixed between New York and New Jersey as merely a processing center. But what we tend to overlook was its significance in demonstrating the creation of American Exceptionalism by undertaking one of the largest healthcare initiatives in our history.

The twenty-two building hospital on Ellis Island, and all those who served there had a mission: Provide care and recovery to the sick and bring about wellness to our newest American assets -- - our people.

We used to provide care as a first measure; now it seems some in Washington could care less about the health of our citizens and more about what seems as a perpetual political fight.

As Republicans in Washington continue to mount efforts to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act out of one side of their mouth while co-opting the phrase of American Exceptionalism for the purpose of giving credence to their political agenda narrowly out of the other side, I ask them to consider this:

In the 2009 study entitled Ready, Willing and Unable To Serve conducted by Mission: Readiness, it looked exclusively at the youth of Pennsylvania (ages 17-24), and discovered that if you combine those who are obese along with those who have other health related issues; over half of our prime military recruitment-aged population would fail the physical readiness baselines. As a mother I am saddened by these statistics about our youth. As an Army veteran of the Iraq War, I find it troubling.

Some of the most important provisions in the legislation that the Supreme Court upheld in their decision last month were to ensure that children with pre-existing conditions could no longer be denied coverage by the insurance industry as well as making it so our young adults could remain covered under their family's insurance policy.

Both of these measures can be key elements to reversing the trends and results of the aforementioned study. And both should be embraced as an exemplification of who we are as a nation.

But in Washington, those who rhetorically place themselves in the camp of so-called "hawks," find themselves at the same time advocating a policy that does nothing to improve the health conditions for our American youth they vote to send into harm's way. This is probably one of the more contradictory policy positions that on the whole can and will have a major impact upon our national security and is far from actively aiming our goal towards achieving the exceptional state that is America.

Many of the same politicians who voted to send me into war back in 2002 are still in Washington today continuing the fight at what seems like an endless debate over the current health care legislation. That debate has lasted long enough and a recent Kaiser Family Research poll confirms that a majority of Americans want Congress to move on to other, pressing issues.

It is time for us to focus on reversing the epidemic of outsourcing American jobs overseas and instead incentivize and invest in a future for the American worker and the middleclass. It is time for us to be a leader in the world for creating cleaner energy sources that allow for us to create jobs and buildup our long-term national security.

In doing so, we will make American Exceptionalism more than an ideal. We will demonstrate it in practice with real results that will improve the economies on our familial, community and national levels.

That should always be our unified mission.

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