Harry S. Truman – Special Message to the Congress Recommending a Comprehensive Health Program (November 19, 1945)

November 19, 1945

To the Congress of the United States

Millions of our citizens do not now have a full measure of opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health.  Millions do not now have protection or security against the economic effects of sickness.

The people of the United States received a shock when the medical examinations conducted by the Selective Service System revealed the widespread physical and mental incapacity among the young people of our nation.

We should resolve now that the health of this Nation is a national concern; that financial barriers in the way of attaining health shall be removed; that the health of all its citizens deserves the help of all the Nation.

None of this is really new. The American people are the most insurance-minded people in the world.  They will not be frightened off from health insurance because some people have misnamed it "socialized medicine."


My recent visit to the Truman Libray has sent me back to reread Harry Truman's proposed Economic Bill of Rights and his November 19, 1945 message to Congress on that proposal You can read the whole text here: http://www.trumanlibrary.org/publicpapers/index.php?pid=483. The Truman Library and archives are a national treasure.

The invocation of the national interest in a healthy conscript pool is striking in light of what we know about current deficiencies in the military recruit population. Specifically, I am reminded of the 2010 report "Too Fat to Fight" (http://cdn.missionreadiness.org/MR_Too_Fat_to_Fight-1.pdf) and wonder if our own lack of conscripted military service has served to shield many truths from ourselves, including the truth of our lack of fitness to defend ourselves.

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