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The Pentagon Spends More on Viagra Than Transgender Medical Care

by Countable | 7.27.17

When President Donald Trump tweeted that he was banning transgender people from serving in the military, one of the reasons he cited was "the tremendous medical costs." Almost immediately, critics began pointing out that the cost would be significantly less than the amount the military spends on Viagra.

According to the Rand Corporation, a public policy and analysis think tank, the cost for gender-related health care would increase the military’s budget by somewhere between $2.4 million and $8.4 million annually.

In contrast, the Military Times newspaper reported in 2015 that the Pentagon spends around $84 million a year on drugs that treat erectile dysfunction, including $41.6 million a year on Viagra.

Why is the U.S. military spending so much money on Viagra, Cialis and other drugs advertised on late night TV?

RETIREES

According to the Military Times, less than 10% of the prescriptions were for active-duty troops. They received just 102,885 prescriptions for ED medications: totaling $7.67 million, which is still nearly the higher estimate for the total cost of transgender medical care.

According to the Defense Health Agency, as reported in the Military Times, "military beneficiaries, including active-duty personnel, retirees, and eligible family members, filled nearly 1.18 million prescriptions for ED medications through" the Express Scripts program in 2014.

While ED can present for a number of reasons, older men are especially susceptible. And retired, and elderly, service members can still use the military’s health services.

MENTAL HEALTH

Ever since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began, ED diagnoses have been increasing in active-duty members.

According to a report by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center, between 2004 and 2013 there were 100,248 cases of ED in active-duty members. In over half these diagnoses, the causes were classified as "psychogenic"—meaning psychological, not physical.

There are a number of mental health related factors that can compromise erections: post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression. The medications used to treat these disorders can also have the side effect of a non-compliant penis.

In 2008, the Rand Corporation reported that one in five U.S. vets from Iraq and Afghanistan were suffering from PTSD or major depression.

In 2015, the Department of Veterans Affairs ran an article titled "Sexual dysfunction a common problem in Veterans with PTSD." The article was based on a review study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, which found that “male Veterans with PTSD were significantly more likely than their civilian counterparts to report erectile dysfunction or other sexual problems.” In one study, researchers found that 85% of male combat veterans diagnosed with PTSD reported ED, compared to 22% of veterans experiencing ED who were not diagnosed with PTSD.

The VA article went on to quote the researchers: "PTSD impairs sexual functioning across multiple domains: desire, arousal, orgasm, activity, and satisfaction."

PHYSICAL FACTORS

Beyond mental health issues, a number of physical factors can prevent an erection: high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and injuries affecting the pelvic area or spinal cord.

Also, Viagra, amongst other ED drugs, can be prescribed to treat a range of non-penis health issues, including diabetes, strokes, heart-failure and infertility in women. However, the Military Times notes that "while drugs such as Viagra, Cialis, Levitra and other phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors are prescribed for other conditions...their most common use is for treating sexual dysfunction in men."

Is Trump correct in his concerns over the "the tremendous medical costs" of allowing transgendered people to serve in the military? Should the Pentagon attempt to lower the costs of treating ED, too? Or should the military take care of all its personnel, regardless of gender-identity or penis rigidity? Hit the Take Action button below and make your voice heard.

--Josh Herman

(Photo Credit: Tim Reckman / Creative Commons)

Countable

Written by Countable

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(120)
  • Elizabeth
    07/27/2017
    ···

    I think I speak for every compassionate human when I say FUCK THIS. This is outrageous. Trump literally has no original ideas; he's just unthinkingly reversing every Obama decision with no regard for its impact.

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  • Morgan
    07/27/2017
    ···

    As a transgendered woman , this is all very upsetting . My surgery was less expensive then my gastric bypass surgery . Something to think about as after my surgery I did not need as many prescriptions. Actually cut down from 4 RX's to 1 RX. Also, my mental state improved . So, saved on therapy and other medical conditions that would of cost the health system even more $$$$.

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  • Tina
    07/27/2017
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    I think if the men and women that protect our country and our rights want viagra or gender reassignment surgery/hormone therapy we should give it to them. They put their lives on the line for us. I'll gladly pay for whatever they need!!

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  • Richard
    07/27/2017
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    It's the same old song and dance... the ol' "these people are different than me so they're not really people" line. The medical cost 'concern' is just another smokescreen for personal biases.

    Like (34)
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  • Karen
    07/27/2017
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    Ugh $84 million dollars on Viagra & Cialis pills. No wonder US Dept of Defense haven't stop the rape culture.

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  • Matthew
    07/27/2017
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    This reek's of Hitler's pure white blood crap. Transgendered service men and women are not the problem . . . The Idiot in Chief is! Any one willing to serve our country should be allowed to. We are spending more money on the Manchurian's weekly vacations and bi weekly golf trips than what transgendered service men and women's need for medical care . . .

    Like (26)
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  • Patty
    07/27/2017
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    Anyone who puts their life on the line for my freedom deserves my respect, and I don't care what their color, religion, or sexual orientation they are.I will gladly pay for whatever medical treatment they need. It is far less than what they have given for me.

    Like (20)
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  • Alice
    07/27/2017
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    Is anybody REALLY surprised??? Trump is the biggest hypocrite, holding the most powerful public office in our country... on the trail, he promised to never cut Medicaid, promised to stand up for LGBT(Q) community, he promised to stand up for the little guy, he promised to "drain the swamp [of Goldman Sachs influenced politicians]", etc etc etc. But he's done the exact opposite on each one of those campaign promises.

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  • Ronda
    07/27/2017
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    Seems to me that erectile dysfunction is itself a gender related issue. Should men who suffer from ED also be banned from serving in our military?

    Like (11)
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  • Sandra
    07/27/2017
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    Attacking the transgendered community is heinous! When is Trump going to be held accountable by legislators who work for the people???

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  • karamauerhan
    07/27/2017
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    There's nothing wrong with needing viagra, and there's nothing wrong with transgender people, and I support paying for each one equally. I bet you $100 that Trump takes viagra.

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  • Brandy
    07/27/2017
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    This is FUBAR. They are just like you and me. They are people. If any person is brave and courageous enough that they want to volunteer and possible sacrifice themselves to protect those who aren't, who the fuck is anyone to tell them no?

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  • Kodiwodi
    07/27/2017
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    Stop paying for viagra. Then there will be no issue

    Like (8)
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  • Paul
    07/27/2017
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    The fact that the Pentagon spends more on Viagra than healthcare for transgender service men and women is very telling. Please do what is right and stand against the President's attack on our most vulnerable service men and women.

    Like (8)
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  • Joanne
    07/27/2017
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    If you are not white, male, rich and straight trump and his Cronies don't like you and want to get rid of us.

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  • NoHedges
    07/27/2017
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    What do we expect? Politicians need their Vigra and Cilias to continue their political rape and plunder of this once great nation. They can't be thinking about children, family, disabled, or the elderly when there is still wealth to be gained, public education to dismantle, an environment to destroy, and wars to incite.

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  • Martin
    07/27/2017
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    You know this ban was wrong, but it's something he can tell voters he got done. At this point republicans don't care what they pass. They simply want it known they actually did something. They just don't care what it is. And that should make voters really mad.

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  • Mary
    07/27/2017
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    How did the draft dodger in chief become a military expert? Oh, I forgot, he knows everything. Are you pro-Trump folks beginning to get it? He promised to protect LGTB rights. (LIE) He promised great health for all. (LIE) He promised Mexico would build his wall. (LIE) He promised America first but continues to make most Trump junk overseas. So another lie. There seems to be a theme here. LIES Yes, this is our President, an untrustworthy liar.

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  • James
    07/27/2017
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    Gee! Viagra? Really? I didn't need that stuff when I was in! Sound to me that someone is going on sick call and making up stories that their schwantz isn't working then getting the scrip and selling it! That's what that is about! I was in during the late 70s till the mid 80s and I here was no such thing as viagra and I had no trouble picking up women! That was a big hidden perk in the armed forces back then was that you will be getting laid! Excuse me ladies but that's the truth! Those guys aren't dumb! They are handing some military doc a bunch of BS then selling the scrips!

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  • Kathy
    07/27/2017
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    Wild! It's amazing the men in Congress have no problem with making sure men can get it up. But they want to stop everything that a woman wants to do with her body, other than being barefoot and pregnant! Who ever chooses to service in the arm services deserve every benefits coming to them and their family. How many in Congress has serviced? Remember 45 got 3 deferments because he had sore feet. Doesn't seem to bother him now on the golf course. I guess this one of the reason big drug corporations donated to Republicans.

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