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13.12.2002

Quality of the autumn recruiting campaign of 2001.

   

The Kharkov oblast Union of soldiers’ mothers and the Kharkov working group of the International Union of human rights (Ukrainian branch) continues to monitor the quality of recruits from Kharkov and the Kharkov oblast. The monitoring of the autumn recruiting campaign of 2001 was conducted with the financial support of the National Institute of democracy.

We sent questionnaires to all military units, to which recruits from Kharkov and the oblast had been directed. We present below the comparative diagram characterizing the number of the responses to our questionnaires and the desires of unit commanders to take part in our monitoring.

 

During the recruiting campaign of autumn 2001 as many as 2029 young soldiers were directed to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. In the military units, about which we have information, 768 soldiers of the autumn campaign-2001 are serving, which makes about 37.85% of the total number of the conscripted.

Commanders of 8 military units responded to our questionnaires unambiguously: they have no claims to the quality of recruits. Here are some quotations: „All of them satisfy the demands of the Ukrainian laws on the conscription to the armed forces“ „The servicemen willingly fulfil their service duties and become healthier and stronger“ „We are satisfied with the results of this recruiting campaign, the servicemen are able to fulfil properly their service duties, they are have good physique. Some of them showed themselves from the best side and were awarded in different ways, some of them were raised in rank – they got the rank of first sergeant. Thus, we have no claims about the quality of the autumn-2001 call-up from the Kharkov oblast; on the contrary we notice that they are better than recruits from other parts of Ukraine.

Yet, such responses we got only from 33.3% of those, who answered our questionnaires or from 10.95% of the total number of the distributed questionnaires.

The answers of other commanders contain such data:

Table 1

768 persons were monitored  
Among them: Absolute number Percentage
1. Got into hospitals or medical units within the first month of service 101 13,8
2. Have chronic diseases, which got more acute in the beginning of the service 70 9,1
3. Have deviations in behavior, have criminal records, used narcotic drugs 14 1,82
4. Have suicidal inclinations 25 3,25
5. Recruited with violation of laws (have the right for postponement by Article 17 of the Law ’On military duty’) 2 0,26
6. Concealed chronic diseases from medical commission to get to the army 3 0,39
7. Declared their unwillingness to serve 4 0,52
8. Attempts of desertion - -
9. Suicidal attempts 1 0,13
10. Are essentially underweight 22 2,86

Below we present excerpts from some letters received from the commanders of military units.

„Private T. Diagnosis: long-lasting depressive neurotic state. Transferred to the reserve“. „Private P. (recruited by the Izium district commission) was transferred to the reserve after medical treatment in the psychiatric ward with the diagnosis „dissociative paralysis of the right lower extremity, … with some features of psycho-physical infantilism (Article 44.4) – mobilized 13 November 2001, dismissed 14 March 2002“. „Private B. (the Kharkov oblast, Kolomak district, village of Kolomak) – obvious disease of duodenum, transferred to the reserve after the state of health; private I. (the Kharkov oblast, village of Ch. Lozova) – chronic periodantit; private S. (the Kharkov oblast, Volchansk district, village Rubizhne) – chronic gastritis, esophagitis“. „Private G. (the Kharkov oblast, town of Lozova) – demonstrated cases of inadequate behavior and abnormal sexual behavior. Very difficult to communicate with, expresses his thoughts with short unlinked phrases. Is very secluded, sometimes speaks with himself. Now stays in a hospital for psychiatric examination“.

In one military unit, to where 143 Kharkovites were sent, two servicemen appeared, who have criminal records and used narcotic drugs; private P. was recruited having gonorrheal urethritis; for servicemen (2.8%) after a psychological testing were acknowledged as having the 4 thgroup of nervous-psychical stability; four servicemen are essentially underweight.

It seems that all these cases might be found before the conscription by recruiting commissions, especially by the oblast medical commission. We gave only several examples, but these examples testify of the unsatisfactory work of medical commissions.

According to Article 69 of Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine of 21 March 2002 No. 352 „On the approval of the Resolution on the preparation and conductance of the conscription of Ukrainian citizens to the conventional military service“, „each member of the medical commission must obtain a room completely equipped and provided with all needed medical tools and drugs“.

But up to now a room is given to several doctors. For example, in the Moskovskiy district recruiting commission a psychiatrist and a neuropathologist work in one room, what impedes some youths to confess their diseases. Especially it concerns the complaints at enuresis and some complaints of psychiatric character.

It is surprising to observe how psychiatrists receive their patients in recruiting commissions. The examination begins and ends with one phrase: „Show your arms“. They believe that if a boy does not use narcotic drugs by intravenous injection and never cut his veins then he is able-bodied. And if the boy does not complain, although he has difficulties in communication, blue moods and irritability, the doctor never tries to find his individual the boy’s individual features, which could be the signs of some internal psychic disorders. The doctors try not to notice all they can.

So, they do not „notice“ headache; neuropathologists of some commissions, when youths complain at headache, answer: „everyone has headaches“. At best the doctors diagnose vegetative vascular distonia, which does not free from military service. Only when parents are worried by the health of their offspring and meddle, the doctors read the recruit’s medical card (if it exists), direct him to medical examination, which, unfortunately, is also not unbiased. The latter statement may be confirmed by the examinations at „Turboatom“ plant medical department, after which the recruits were additionally examined in other medical establishments by our requests.

The situation concerning the diseases of gastrointestinal tract is also very complicated.

Article 55 „a“ of Order No. 2 of 4 January 1994 envisages the unsuitability to military service with taking off from the military lists altogether (CO-8); Article 55 „б“ envisages the unsuitability to military service in peaceful time and limited unsuitability in war time (CO-7); Article 55 „в“ for youths „with insignificant functional deviations and infrequent exacerbation“ envisages the unsuitability to military service (CO-4).

Doctors-therapists of the medical commissions, according to our observations, almost never use items „a“ and „б“. Only they find gastric ulcer or ulcer duodenum, they have to use these items. However, if a youth has erosive gastritis with frequent exacerbation and dysfunction of acid secretion, then the doctors again notice nothing.

So, mother of serviceman G. turned to us. G. was recruited to the army with gastritis with frequent exacerbation, in 18 months the gastritis developed to the gastric ulcer. The soldier stayed in hospital six times and returned from the army as invalid.

The question about the underweight was not included to the questionnaire concerning the spring recruiting campaign. In the autumn recruiting campaign-2000 51 servicemen were underweight (3.78%), 1n the autumn recruiting campaign-2001 this number was 22 (2.8%).

In our previous report we quoted the opinions of military unit commanders about the absurdity of conscripting the essentially underweight recruits, since they are not capable to fulfil properly their service duties. This time the commanders did not change their minds.

Order No. 2 of 4 January 1994 contained Article 87, which stipulated the unsuitability for military service in peaceful time and limited unsuitability in war time or temporary unsuitability for some categories of recruits. Unfortunately, this article was not included into Order No. 207 of 12 July 1999.

The Kharkov oblast union of soldiers’ mothers and the Kharkov working group of the International Union of human rights (Ukrainian branch) do not agree with the existing rules, since the abnormally small weight may be (and often is) an appearance of a disease, which can be unclosed only after a thorough examination. Yet, such examinations will hardly be carried out by the request of a recruiting commission, especially if the patient does not complain at his health.

The insufficient quality of medical examinations of recruits was discussed at the sittings of the oblast recruiting commission, which worked during the autumn campaign-2001. This concerns the Moskovskiy district commission, where the therapeutic ward is absent at all and, as a result, there is no opportunity to pass an adequate ultra-sound examination or gastroenteroscopy.

The unsatisfactory quality of medical examination was also observed in Valki and Zolochev districts; in the Volchansk district they had no equipment for electric cardiography and fluorography. Proper specialists are absent in the Zolochev district, and many recruits are sent to Kharkov for additional examinations. This demands additional expenses, and the proportion of such additional examinations reaches 30%.

The question „How many youths, in your opinion, appeared to be not completely prepared for the military service“ was answered in the following way: 23 servicemen, which makes 2.99% of the total number. We believe that this number is obviously underestimated. Analyzing the questionnaires we concluded that the majority of those, who were included to categories 1-10 of Table 1, cannot be competent soldiers.

Obviously, until the main problem of the proper examination of recruits and rehabilitation of ill recruits is solved, we will have these 18% of not able-bodied soldiers from the Kharkov oblast, which we have already for several years.

In what follows we present Table 2 comparing the recruiting campaigns of 2000 and 2001. 1999 was not included into the table, since that year we got the insufficient number of responses.

Table 2

  % of the total number of the instigated
Among them: Spring 2000 Autumn 2000 Autumn 2001
1. Got into hospitals or medical units within the first month of service 11,73 8,5 13,.15
2. Have chronic diseases, which got more acute in the beginning of the service 3,94 2,01 9,1
3. Have deviations in behavior, have criminal records, used narcotic drugs 1,58 5,05 1,82
4. Have suicidal inclinations 5,52 5,57 3,25
5. Recruited with violation of laws (have the right for postponement by Article 17 of the Law ’On military duty’)     0,26
6. Concealed chronic diseases from medical commission to get to the army 2,46 0,74 0,39
7. Declared their unwillingness to serve 0,49 0,22 0,52
8. Attempts of desertion 0,29 0,074 0,0
9. Suicidal attempts 0,1 0,074 0,13
10. Are essentially underweight - 3,78 2,8

Our conclusions: unfortunately, after the autumn recruiting campaign-2001 the number of servicemen, whose chronic diseases, which got more acute in the beginning of the service, substantially increased. This fact convincingly testifies that the quality of medical examination of recruits got substantially worse, and that examination of minors when registering in military lists is very negligent.

At the same time the given data proves that the examination of servicemen in military units became more careful. Yet, this ought not to diminish the quality of medical examination in recruiting commissions.

Our propositions:

To tun to the State administration of the Kharkov oblast proposing the creation of the special medical center (according to Article 26 of the Resolution) provided with modern medical equipment for examination and, if needed, for the treatment and rehabilitation of recruits. Best-skilled doctors must be attracted to the work in this center, the examination must be conducted gratis. All medical data about youths from their birth to the recruiting campaign must be stored in databases of this center.

We sent this proposition to the head of the directorate of health protection of the Kharkov oblast state administration. To raise the personal responsibility of the members of medical commissions for the quality of the call-up. Recruiting commissions must work so that only those youths, who can properly fulfil their military duty according to their psychic and physical state, got to the Armed Forces.

To resume the action of Article 87 of Order No. 2 of 4 January 1994 concerning the underweight recruits.

To introduce administration punishment for the doctors for the conscription of poor-health recruits. The matter is that negligent medical examination leads to the deterioration of the health of those, who were called to the army being not able-bodied and to their treatment in military medical establishments, which treatment is much more expensive than in civil establishments. And this makes a heavy burden to us, mere taxpayers. The Armed Forces, in their turn, suffer from the low combativity due to unsatisfactory health of servicemen and dedovshchina directed at young soldiers with poor health.

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