Investing in technology is America’s pathway to prosperity
Special to Stars and Stripes October 31, 2023
Every single day, the men and women in our nation’s military are making sacrifices to keep us safe here at home that the regular person could not even imagine. But these brave soldiers step up and put duty, honor and country above all else and answer the call to protect and serve.
It is for that reason that we owe our service members everything, including providing them with every available tool not only for success on the battlefield but to keep themselves safe and healthy.
Fortunately, we have members of Congress who understand their responsibility to do everything in their power to protect those who protect all of us.
Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., who serves as the ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee and is a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, has prioritized veterans from his first day in office. Additionally, Rep. Clay Higgins, R-La., an Army veteran and law enforcement officer, has made it a priority while serving on the House Homeland Security Committee to look out for the best interests of our men and women in uniform.
In Mississippi, Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Rep. Trent Kelly, R-Miss., have both served in our armed services and understand the commitment to standing up for our military and veterans. Wicker currently serves as the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and served in the U.S. Air Force and Air Force Reserve, retiring from the Reserve in 2004 as a lieutenant colonel. Kelly serves on the House Armed Services Committee and has a distinguished military career spanning nearly four decades.
Whether it’s their military service or their positions in Congress, we are lucky to have individuals committed to service. So, the question becomes, what can be done to help support our military?
In today’s world, having transformative technology at your disposal is critical. Identifying innovative technology where investments could be instrumental in not only improving our nation’s military, but society at large should be a top priority.
That’s exactly what we have with the artificial intelligence Rapid Analysis of Threat Exposure (RATE) algorithm that was developed by the Department of Defense and Philips. Through this algorithm, off-the-shelf wearable devices like watches and rings can help predict infections in humans before symptoms ever appear. With this type of technology, we can potentially identify people who are sick with infections — including COVID-19 — before even a doctor or at-home test would be able to detect the sickness.
Getting this technology in as many hands as possible is an efficient and easy way to help slow the spread of infection, including in the close quarters that many men and women in the military experience. It is a no-brainer that we should increase Department of Defense funding to help expand not only this technology but others like it and to make it more accessible to those serving in our armed forces.
Continuing to build off of RATE technology and improve its capabilities has potentially monumental societal benefits, but it cannot be done without the buy-in of lawmakers. Supporting partnerships like the one that made RATE possible — as well as the countless other public-private partnerships that help modernize our military with everything from language translation to ultrasound technology — is squarely in the hands of Congress. Increased support of public-private partnerships will help bring advancements in technology into the mainstream benefiting all of us.
The health and safety of service members should never be something that gets relegated to the back burner, particularly if steps to maintain and improve health outcomes can be applied to our larger society. With leaders like Cassidy, Wicker, Higgins and Kelly, we know our service members and veterans are in good hands and will never be cast aside.
We are on the precipice of incredible technological advances that can make a true difference in people’s lives and with the right amount of support behind these initiatives, the sky’s the limit for the difference we can make.
Paul Deckert, a retired U.S. Marine Corps colonel, is an attorney and consultant in New Orleans who remains actively engaged in the affairs of the U.S. military and focused on the health and well-being of service members and veterans.