Although the bloodshed in Iraq is unabated, army recruiters are having little difficulty persuading Americans to sign up for Uncle Sam. Martial zeal, it seems, remains strong in American culture, and a subsidised college education a powerful draw. Lest this should ever change, however, recruiters could offer an unlikelier inducement: free plastic surgery.
According to army figures dug up by the New Yorker, over the past three-and-a-half years military surgeons have performed 556 breast enhancements and 1,592 liposuction procedures on soldiers and their close relatives. Soldiers have to pay only the cost of their breast or, potentially, buttock implants; family members must cover other expenses. Face-lifts and nose jobs are also available. Alas, an army spokesman could not say whether penis enlargements may be had at federal expense.
The Defence Department insists that such operations offer excellent opportunities for its doctors to practise the skills they need to treat war wounds and burns. They also keep surgeons up to speed with the latest techniques being used on civvy street, which makes them happy. They make soldiers happy, too. “Taking care of the physical and emotional needs of soldiers and their families is critical,” explained another army spokesman. Moreover, elective surgery was the lowest priority, and therefore no great burden to taxpayers, she said, adding that army plastic surgeons each perform a mere five boob jobs a year.