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Regarding the June 3 article “Two brothers die in war zones; only one is memorialized”: As tragic as this is for the Velez family, I cannot in all honesty consider the taking of one’s own life the equivalent of soldiers who have died in combat. I even have issues with comparing it to soldiers who were killed in noncombat situations such as accidents and the like.

We are inundated daily on American Forces Network and with posters to get with combat stress control specialists or the chaplain if we have a problem. Spc. Andrew Velez had problems but took the easy way out. There are many, many soldiers over here with problems who utilize their friends, chain of command and other organizations. He could have also.

American Legion Post 575 acted properly in not placing his name with his brother’s.

Richard Martin

Contingency Operating Base Adder, Iraq

Training on animals is inferior

The Army’s assertion that the best way to train medics to treat the injuries of wounded soldiers is by having them mutilate and kill animals is not supported by evidence or common sense and deprives our troops of the best training available (“German animal rights activists decry Army’s use of pigs in medical training,” article, June 4).

Time and again, comparative studies have found that medical care providers who complete trauma training using simulators and cadaver-based training methods are better prepared to treat sick and injured patients than those who are trained using crude and cruel animal labs.

Experts from the military’s National Capital Area Medical Simulation Center have stated that the use of animals for trauma training is “not really a very good method. Animals obviously have the wrong anatomy. … If you train with animals all day long, at the end of the day you become very good at saving goats and pigs. You haven’t saved your first human yet.”

The inherent limitations imposed by animal-based training methods are resolved by using simulators that offer accurate anatomy, repeatability, objective feedback and assessment, and, most importantly, impart skills that have been proven to transfer directly to the treatment of human patients. Fort Campbell’s own Rascon School of Combat Medicine does not use animals in its trauma program, and has stated publicly that, “Training on [simulators] is more realistic to providing care for a person than training on animals.”

The Army does a disservice to both animals and soldiers when it allows archaic tradition and personal biases to stand in the way of the implementation of the most modern, effective and humane training methods available to prepare members of our nation’s armed forces to treat their fallen comrades.

Shalin G. Gala

Laboratory methods specialist

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

Norfolk, Va.

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