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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

CNN & Huffington Post Politicize Death of Army Spc. Gregory James Missman

Army Spc. Gregory James Missman died in Bagram Afghanistan on July 8, 2009 after being inured by an improvised explosive device. The Gazette report dated July 10 notes Missman re-enlisted in the military after losing his job as a computer consultant:
Missman had served in the Army in the early 1990s but had been a civilian for 11 years, his father, Jim Missman, told WCPO in Cincinnati. He recently re-enlisted after a divorce to provide health insurance for his son, his father said.
Nearly two months later, CNN reports on his death highlighting Missman's reason for re-enlistment, specifically his lack of health insurance.

The Huffington Post picked up the story in what seems to be an effort to politicize Missman's death. The HuffPo headline reads: "Soldier Who Re-Enlisted For Health Care, Killed In Afghanistan." In their brief recap of the CNN report, HuffPo writes:
According to Missman's father, health care is what pushed his son back into service. After losing his job, Missman's young family, a wife and son were no longer insured.
There are a few facts missing in this interpretation of Missman's motivation for re-enlisting. According to a report issued by WCPO News at the time of Missman's death:
"He'd gone through a separation, a divorce. Greg has a four-year-old son and was obligated to provide him health insurance monthly support and he was unemployed so I believe that was probably the stimulus that he was going to fulfill his obligation," continued Greg's father.
Let me say first, my heart goes out to Missman's family. Losing a child is a tragedy and his father's grief must be immense. I certainly understand Mr. Missman's desire to make sense of his son's death, this is a normal part of the grieving process.

I do, however, question the timing of CNN and Huffington Post's reporting on Missman's reasons for re-enlistment at this time. Under current law, Missman's son would have been eligible for health insurance due Missman's lost employment provided of course, his ex-wife did not have insurance on her own. Regardless, of the terms of their divorce, Missman could not have been expected to provide insurance when he was unemployed. Perhaps I am mistaken but I don't see how Missman's re-enlistment would provide insurance for his ex-wife who is portrayed as a wife in Huffington Post's misleading report.

There is a logical flaw in this politicized review of the death of Specialist Missman. The argument is presented in such terms that his lack of insurance resulted in his death. No one disagrees that insurance should be more affordable and clearly insurance tied to employment creates a host of problems for those who lose their jobs. Missman's son would have been covered under current law as previously mentioned, as he surely would be after some nebulous reform. I could equally assert the failure of the stimulus to save or create a job for Missman resulted in his death, if I chose to make a fallacious politicized argument. Missman's service and sacrifice deserves better than that however, and certainly greater respect than is shown by either CNN or Huffington Post.

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