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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    Ted Cruz Declares War on Gluten-free Soldiers

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Caption: Ted Cruz is against gluten-free meals for US troops. Photo: CC--Matt Johnson

    Celiac.com 02/19/2016 - Did senator Ted Cruz just declare war on gluten-free soldiers? It kind of looks like that.

    Photo: CC--Matt JohnsonIn an attempt to show he can be tough on American servicemen and women with celiac disease, the Republican presidential hopeful declared that, in the event the American people find him serving as their president and commander-in-chief, there will be no gluten-free MREs for soldiers anywhere under his command.

    Campaigning in South Carolina, and courting pro-military voters, the Texas senator seemed to believe he was striking a blow against what he describes as a culture of "political correctness" in the Pentagon.

    Speaking in broad strokes, Cruz said that "…the last thing any commander should need to worry about is the grades he is getting from some plush-bottomed Pentagon bureaucrat for political correctness or social experiments -- or providing gluten-free MREs;" the shorthand term for Meal, Ready-to-Eat.

    According to Ted Cruz, it's a bad thing to be in favor of soldiers with celiac disease having a gluten-free meal when they're in the field—while they might be putting their lives on the line in service to our country.

    Should American servicemen and women with celiac disease or gluten intolerance have their medical treatment made into a political issue? Apparently Cruz thinks so.

    However, since celiac disease is a bona fide medical condition, and a gluten-free diet is the only currently recognized treatment, regardless of whether you are Democrat or Republican, Ted Cruz, or anyone else who aspires to be commander-in-chief of the armed forces, should simply not be treating them like second-class citizens.

    All soldiers with medical conditions deserve proper treatment, that includes service men and women with celiac disease and medical conditions that require treatment with a gluten-free diet.

    Let the senator from Texas know what you think: Ted Cruz on Twitter @tedcruz

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    My family includes 8 physicians. Two of us are also celiac patients. And none of us consider Ted Cruz to be a reliable source for any information. Most of his followers are in serious need accurate education. I am more concerned about the statement by the US Department of Justice. How could they be making decisions based on such erroneous assumptions??!!!

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    I don't really wish to impugn the motives for authoring this piece. However it is my understanding that the military service policy in this nation is that people with Celiac Sprue if identified as such prior to applying for military duty, can be rejected for same based on this condition. That is my understanding. Now in the real world, I am sure people get into the military who do have Celiac Sprue. The question is salient as to what to do then, plus a lot of other questions along with that. Let's look at history in this regard: A young man who obviously had Celiac, John F. Kennedy, got into the military. Now of course he had to pull strings because his official diagnosis was Addison's Disease, although that was bogus. But because he pulled strings, he got into the Navy and became a war hero in World War II. The rest is history as they say. So there are a bunch more issues here than meets the eye based on this article is my point.

    Yes, I read a reputable article saying the same thing, that celiacs can be denied when even applying for any military duty just based on that diagnosis. The article also stated that there are currently no gluten-free MRE options today, so Cruz promising to "ban" these things that don't even exist in today's military certainly feels like blustering.

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    The Dietary department should be in charge here. Does Cruz want that job?? Is he a personality who sticks his nose in the whole deal. For him bladder infections will probably be next.

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    Thank you. As someone with celiac disease this is an important issue to me. I will share this article and appreciate your keeping me informed. This should be important to everyone like me who is 'Living Gluten Free to LIVE' !

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    This article, like the whole blown up issue, is absurd. Cruz was commenting on what a commander should be worried about and what they should not be worried about - and they most certainly should NOT be worried about what those under their command are eating. They have much larger issues to be in control of. But since many in the gluten-free community have chosen to twist his comments to mean that he feels those with celiac should not be in the military, let's talk about that.

    Brain fog, extreme fatigue, joint pain, diarrhea, vomiting...these are just a few of the symptoms that might occur if someone with celiac disease accidentally consumes gluten. In a combat situation, there is NO way to guarantee without a shadow of a doubt that accidental gluten consumption might not occur. So there will always be the possibility of gluten. No way should someone who may experience any of the above symptoms be trusted with weapon, trusted to care for others under high stress conditions, trusted with the safety of the sons and daughters of our country and other countries, or be trusted to make sound judgement calls under already strained conditions - namely combat! I can't believe anyone with any experience with celiac disease would see anything wrong with keeping those with celiac disease out of these situations. The way some (you included) have spun this is EXACTLY what Cruz was referencing. Our country has become one of complete political correctness - even at the expense of common sense. What's next?? Insisting that accommodations be made so that quadriplegics can man the front lines? This country needs to quit making every issue personal and turning everything into how it's wronged so and so.

    SOOOOO, I am guessing that you don't believe people that have celiac disease should be allowed to buy a gun per the second amendment? because no way should they be entrusted with so dangerous a weapon around the public... there have always been medical exceptions to combat related service... but IF a person is required to serve... the least that can be done for them is to make sure they get whatever medical treatment they require... Sarah, it seems you don't understand celiac very well, either...

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    Whether or not people with celiac disease should be allowed to serve in the military is really not the point here. I'm in my early 60s and growing up it occurred to me more than once that if I was a guy, my celiac disease would have given me a valid medical deferment which would have kept me out of Vietnam which in those days was a very good thing indeed.

     

    What people on this page should be outraged about is that in Ted Cruz's mind Gluten Free equals "trendy", "sissy", "weak" and (oh horrors) politically correct. If Ted Cruz does not believe this personally, then he is pandering to ignorant people who do, which in my opinion is worse.

     

    Something to think about when you go to the polls whether or not Senator Cruz seems like your political cup of tea.

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    Lets stop the hysterics and get to the problem he equated the gluten-free diet with political correctness and social experiments and it diminishes the seriousness of the diet that is a terrible thing.

    He did not, however, declare war on gluten-free soldiers because there are not any gluten-free soldiers in the field and very few still serving. Celiac disease is one of those things that will prevent you from serving and if found out while serving you will most likely be medically discharged and if not you will never be deployed. So it's silly to say he's waging war and you are doing just as much a disservice to the celiac community as Ted Cruz by missing the point and injecting inflamed rhetoric into this issue.

    The truth is celiacs shouldn't serve because we would be a liability in a war zone AND as civilians our medical treatment should be respected. If a soldier does NOT have a medical need for a gluten-free diet and still wants to serve and get a gluten-free MRE he should get over it and eat what he or she is given like everyone else.

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    It is concerning that celiac disease is viewed as a frivolous malady, when it is not. However, I find it much more disconcerting that those already diagnosed with the disease are not permitted to enlist. This is truly discriminatory.

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    This article, like the whole blown up issue, is absurd. Cruz was commenting on what a commander should be worried about and what they should not be worried about - and they most certainly should NOT be worried about what those under their command are eating. They have much larger issues to be in control of. But since many in the gluten-free community have chosen to twist his comments to mean that he feels those with celiac should not be in the military, let's talk about that.

    Brain fog, extreme fatigue, joint pain, diarrhea, vomiting...these are just a few of the symptoms that might occur if someone with celiac disease accidentally consumes gluten. In a combat situation, there is NO way to guarantee without a shadow of a doubt that accidental gluten consumption might not occur. So there will always be the possibility of gluten. No way should someone who may experience any of the above symptoms be trusted with weapon, trusted to care for others under high stress conditions, trusted with the safety of the sons and daughters of our country and other countries, or be trusted to make sound judgement calls under already strained conditions - namely combat! I can't believe anyone with any experience with celiac disease would see anything wrong with keeping those with celiac disease out of these situations. The way some (you included) have spun this is EXACTLY what Cruz was referencing. Our country has become one of complete political correctness - even at the expense of common sense. What's next?? Insisting that accommodations be made so that quadriplegics can man the front lines? This country needs to quit making every issue personal and turning everything into how it's wronged so and so.

    Actually, Sarah, commanders and political leaders down through the long stretch of history have, indeed, been very concerned with food as a primary issue with their fighting troops. For example, I just finished reading a history of the late Roman empire. Field commanders of the Roman legions often based their plans on food-related issues. Adequate food and the right food is fundamental to waging war. So, Sarah, your assertion that military commanders should not be concerned with what their troops are eating is not only wrong, it is absurd.

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in science, scientific methodology, biology, anatomy, medicine, logic, and advanced research. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

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