I don’t get it, sometimes. People want to play “social engineering” with the veteran community. Yesterday, Sen. Ted Cruz announced his defense policy. One of his policy planks is to deny the military gluten-free meals. Gluten-free MRE’s are “politically correct,” the candidate urged. See Time News report.

The same day, National Public Radio has a piece talking about the Veterans Administration does not support in vitro fertilization. IVF is available to active duty soldiers, but not to veterans. Apparently, some member of Congress object to IVF because it can involve the destruction of fetuses. See NPR report. One soldier, Matt Keils, got out of active duty after he was paralyzed. He and his wife assumed incorrectly that he could get IVF as a veteran like he could as an active duty soldier. Much to the surprise of his wife and he, he could not.

I get it that Congress will use the military and veterans as tools in social engineering. People will tell us what our meals should include or what we should read. I was not a big fan of Playboy and those sorts of magazines. But, I remember when they were removed from PX shelves and thinking, “too bad, some soldiers would really miss that.” Giving up sensational magazines is part of the price we pay for serving in a military in a democracy.

But, surely, not diet? Menu restrictions are not politically correct. A great many soldiers watch what they eat and are very careful to avoid certain foods. When I commanded a drill sergeant battalion – one of the best assignments I ever had by the way – lactose intolerance was a big issue. We knew not to force milk on new recruits who just happened to lack tolerance for lactose. Heck, later as a an Assistant Scoutmaster, I learned not to mess with peanut allergies. Is a gluten free diet any different?

As soldiers, we expect to serve. To some degree, we know we have to accept some of these restrictions imposed by our duty to the public. We can give up Playboy magazine. But, surely, we can find a way to allow young soldiers and their spouses to conceive children. It is one thing to give your body parts to your country as part of your sacrifice. But, to give up having kids, that is a heavy requirement – especially when it is motivated largely by perceived political issues.