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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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    This is a complicated thing. If there is a draft and having celiac gets you out of it BC you are too difficult to feed, I feel like this is fine actually. Or if you are diagnosed with celiac after volunteering and are then given an honorable/medical discharge.

     

    I think if ppl get outraged about this, it makes them look crazyily self centered, I think... you literally can't eat most American / processed food without getting sick, it is a much bigger medical deal than most other things ppl used to use to get out of the draft.....

     

    I disagree with Ted Cruz on very many things and would be horrified if he became the commander in cheif of our military. But even as someone who shops and cooks for someone with Celiac's, I do agree with and understand this position.

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    This is complete and totally misleading and inaccurate.

    He did not say at all that no gluten free meals would be served and you know it. How shameful of you to publish this so blatantly false information.

    I agree. Someone is putting their political agenda out there and we are supposed to just lap it up. I find it very annoying when people politicize everything just to forward their own agenda.

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    Please tell us what part is inaccurate? Ted Cruz said MRE's, and that is what this article said...

    It's from CNN which means it will naturally be slanted toward a progressive politically correct agenda.

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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.

    You are correct, Jeff. There are more issues here than meets the eye, and present day journalism does little to assuage public fear and mistrust and raises more militancy on many fronts than there is in the military. Numbers being what they are and as easily manipulated as many government agencies make them to be, let me posit that perhaps thousands of undiagnosed celiac sprue Americans have served in the various military branches from WWI to present day (including the excellent and probably most famous example you included, John F. Kennedy). The question becomes, "Then what?" Your understanding is also correct that military service requests can be and most often are rejected based on prior diagnosis of celiac sprue. "Then what?" Are celiacs the new "Don't Ask, Don't Tell?" If they want to serve this country they might just be and will suffer on many uneven battlefields. Do those of us with prior service (including combat) have standing for legal action against (insert agency here) because we were not diagnosed prior to serving and excluded from that service. The issues here have the potential to be bigger than an off-hand comment by a sitting senator campaigning in an election year but I doubt that it will become so. The rise and fall of political hysteria based on click bait headlines is just what the country has when what it really needs is a good 5-cent cigar. It was 25 years after my release from active duty that I was diagnosed by intestinal biopsy as having celiac sprue. I am not elevating myself to the level of President Kennedy because at the time of my service I thought I was turning my skivvies around due to close encounters of a surface to air missile kind.

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    Ted Cruz is either ignorant about celiac disease and the medical necessity of a gluten free diet, or completely unconcerned about the health of millions of celiacs in the US. It's up to each American (or, in the primaries, Republican) to decide if that's acceptable to them in a president. This is relevant to any person with celiac or with loved ones that have celiac, so it is perfectly appropriate for this site.

     

    In regards to providing for special dietary needs, since there is no necessity of gluten in the human diet and there wouldn't be negative effects to other soldiers to eat gluten-free meals, the army could easily accommodate all segments of the population by making all their MREs gluten and pork free. Problem solved.

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    While we are all entitled to our political opinions, singling out a candidate from a party that is clearly not your personal preference & writing an unflattering (possibly incorrect) post under the guise of being concerned for the welfare of those with celiac disease is not acceptable.

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    I don't know why this is such a big current issue. Having celiac disease has disqualified you from joining the military for over a decade now (when I was originally looking into it). If you are diagnosed with celiac while already in the military, it's on a case by case basis... Ted Cruz was just playing off the fad diet and clearly doesn't know what he's talking about.

     

    Just google "Celiac" + "Military" and read the first article by Gluten Dude.

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    Thank you for bringing up a topic that is totally relevant to your site. Cruz has definitely been quoted as you stated -- he did say what you claim, that cannot be denied. This is a microcosm of how he believes people who are "different" should be treated. Politics aside, does anyone want this mentality in the White House? He is not only ill-informed, but open to his own form of politically correct! It's time things like this were out in the open. I find it difficult to believe that any celiac or gluten-sensitive person can defend him on any level.

    I agree. I have celiac sprue and served in the military. Ted Cruz is ill informed. His advisers need to do a better job.

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    To be fair.....have you done an article critical of Michelle Obama's interference with the nation's school lunch program?

    Maybe I just missed it.

    I'm trying to figure out the point or connection that you are attempting to make. Wanting healthier food in schools is a bad thing or is it her affiliation to the President that makes the connection. Maybe I just missed it.

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    Guest Frances L. Garcia, MD

    Posted

    Samantha is correct. My son was suspected of having celiac disease (his mother-me-, uncle, brother and niece are celiacs) He was told that if he tested positive he would receive an honorable discharge from the air force. To me that would have been welcomed instead of suffering through 8 months of anguish because he was in the middle east!

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    Totally agree with you, Admin and Ski Mom. Obviously the idiots who support Ted Cruz don't have and have had nothing to do with celiac disease. We only get snippets of news on the American Presidential elections here in NZ, but whoever you choose has got to be better than ignorant Ted Cruz! What an eye-opener. Good job this has come out now.

    Please note Celiac.com is not calling Ted Cruz or his supporters anything--we are simply shedding light on his stated position, which should be a concern for anyone on a gluten-free diet due to health reasons. What if the CEO of a major airline made a similar comment about providing gluten-free meals to their passengers--equating the diet with liberalness or political correctness? Would you call for a boycott? Would you defend them? Either way, Celiac.com would cover it.

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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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