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What’s the Military Doing With All That Viagra, Anyway?

Beyond the obvious, of course

If you’ve been following the news over the last 36 hours, you’ve most certainly read about how the U.S. military spends $84 million annually on erectile dysfunction medication ($41 million on Viagra, another $43 million on its competitors), which is far less than the relatively minuscule $8 million spent on health-care costs for transgender soldiers. The source? No less an authority than the Military Times.

Naturally, the fact that our government was potentially cutting treatment for thousands of transgender troops because the costs were “tremendous” while preserving 10 times that amount of funding for boner pills left some people outraged and/or scratching their heads:

To Meyers’ point, though, if not screwing the enemy to death, what is the military doing with all those little blue pills?

The glib answer is obvious — fucking.

The more nuanced one, however, comes courtesy of the BBC. It explains that most military Viagra users fall into one of two categories—neither of whom are active-duty personnel, who only account for 10 percent of that $84 million.

The first:

[T]he vast majority went to other groups eligible, including millions of military retirees and their family members. In fact, around 10 million people in total are estimated to be covered by the Pentagon’s healthcare system, which cost $52 billion in 2012.

It is well known that erectile dysfunction is more common among older men — which would explain a hefty bill for retired service members.

The second:

A study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine in 2015 found that male veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were “significantly more likely than their civilian counterparts to report erectile dysfunction or other sexual problems,” according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

One study cited found that 85 percent of male combat veterans with PTSD report erectile dysfunction, nearly four times the rate among those returning from combat who are not diagnosed with a mental health disorder.

Not to take away from the sentiment of the argument — trans soldiers should absolutely have their health needs covered, too — but perhaps veterans attempting to achieve some sense of normalcy aren’t the best point of comparison.