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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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    I'm sorry but kosher or other diets don't cause our soldiers to fall ill on the battle field. There is a good reason that celiacs aren't admitted to the armed services. It could affect the life and death performance that other soldiers are depending on. I have celiac disease and so do my young adult children and have investigated the issue. I think politicizing this message is taking it out of context. I usually like your articles but your argument is weak here. Ted Cruz meant the crazy self entitled babies who just want special treatment, not the medically necessary brave men and women who serve.

    Many people felt the same way about women or gay people in the military, racial integration of the armed forces, etc., but Celiac.com feels that people with celiac disease should be able to serve in our military in any capacity. We should not be discriminated against based on our diet.

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    People with known, diagnosed celiac disease are not admitted into the military. However, we have many servicemen and women who are diagnosed after they begin their service. My understanding is that, once discovered, celiac troops are moved to positions where their medical meal needs can be accommodated, i.e., non-combat positions. Still Cruz's comments are legitimate targets for questions or criticism, at least from the standpoint of a celiac disease and gluten-free information site, such as celiac.com.

    Jefferson, you too, are correct. What is true today wasn't even a gleam in anyone's eye in 1965.

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    CNN is a very biased news outlet and uses language to incite emotional reaction over rational thinking. I think to post this in this forum was in poor taste. To suggest inflammatory text to Cruz is a projection of someone's political bias. The military deals with provisions as "on a need basis" and always has. This is what his reference was that in order to build a military strong, we need to keep that focus and not try to move into political correctness. That is what he is all about keeping spending in line with purpose and keeping our priorities and purpose in line with the Constitution. I believe he would be a great Commander of the military. I completely understand celiac as we are a generational family of celiacs and for many years before most others even knew about it, many doctors sent their patients to me upon diagnosis on how to functionally live with this. That was a day long before all the conveniences and information of today. Secondly, I am a clinical person and am VERY familiar with the military. Thirdly, people need to stop pulling statements out of context on all the candidates just to degrade their characters but rather, look at their records over time and see if they have taken stands that support your views about important issues. The campaign trail is really not the best place to figure out for whom to vote. Their history is much better. Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. Thank you for the opportunity to voice one opinion. I appreciate the other respectfully stated opinions.

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    CNN is a very biased news outlet and uses language to incite emotional reaction over rational thinking. I think to post this in this forum was in poor taste. To suggest inflammatory text to Cruz is a projection of someone's political bias. The military deals with provisions as "on a need basis" and always has. This is what his reference was that in order to build a military strong, we need to keep that focus and not try to move into political correctness. That is what he is all about keeping spending in line with purpose and keeping our priorities and purpose in line with the Constitution. I believe he would be a great Commander of the military. I completely understand celiac as we are a generational family of celiacs and for many years before most others even knew about it, many doctors sent their patients to me upon diagnosis on how to functionally live with this. That was a day long before all the conveniences and information of today. Secondly, I am a clinical person and am VERY familiar with the military. Thirdly, people need to stop pulling statements out of context on all the candidates just to degrade their characters but rather, look at their records over time and see if they have taken stands that support your views about important issues. The campaign trail is really not the best place to figure out for whom to vote. Their history is much better. Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. Thank you for the opportunity to voice one opinion. I appreciate the other respectfully stated opinions.

    We do not believe that we've pulled any statements out of context, and many other different news networks have also covered this as well, including Time Magazine.

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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.

    My! We are judgmental aren't we Christine? Maybe since you don't get anything but "snippets" you should do a bit more research before you start calling names. The "ignorant" Ted Cruz was one of the top debaters in the country (the United States, not New Zealand) and has successfully debated cases before the Supreme Court. Doing a bit more study before you call names will keep you from looking ignorant.

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    I love all this discussion about just one speech by one politician - politicians and politics here in Canada are so very boring in comparison. Thank you for publishing the article, it is curious to me why any politician would choose to comment on a "minority" of the population. Keep up the good work!

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    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.

    Having adequate food and having to make sure that special diets can be supplied are two very different things. I have no idea what you mean by the "right food" since the right food is different for some people.

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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.

    As a Veteran, I recognize how harmful Cruz' comment is. As a voter, I cannot stand idly by when any politician make light of a subject so serious in my own life. You have every right to minimize or ignore it but to accuse the author like you just did is beyond the pale.

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    The US military currently provides kosher meals to Jewish troops. What if Ted Cruz said that US generals shouldn't have to worry about providing kosher meals to our Jewish troops? Would that be news? Would that be considered acceptable public policy?

    Yes, this came to my mind on reading your article, too. In fact, kosher, halal and vegetarian options are all available. Passover MRE's are, too (with matzoh replacing starches that are not kosher for that holiday). So it is problematic to target gluten-free as if the military should refuse to "cater" to the particular dietary needs of specific groups of service people.

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    Thank you for this article. As the mother of an adult daughter who spent much of her life in bathrooms and missing events, I am sensitive to comments made about this disease and those who suffer with it. I do believe Ted Cruz used this disease to stir his base for his own benefit. Sad.

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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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