Gold Star Mom To Trump: Transform The Bureaucracy

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

David Lewis Research Director, Focus For Health Foundation
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In 2016, National Gold Star Mother Susan Price endorsed candidate Donald Trump at a rally in Tampa, Florida. Seven years earlier, her son, Marine Gunnery Sgt. Aaron Michael Kenefick, died in a relentless barrage of gunfire and rockets in the Battle of Ganjgal. The intense firefight, which lasted from dawn until after 4 pm, was described by the military as a “high-profile ambush.”

Following new Rules of Engagement and a Tactical Directive aimed at reducing civilian casualties under President Obama, Commanders in the tactical operations center (TOC) refused Air and Artillery Support. The heroic battle that followed produced two Living Medal of Honor Recipients, Marine Sgt. Dakota Meyer and Army Captain Will Swenson.

According to a military investigation, loss of life ensued on the battlefield that fateful day due to abandonment, dereliction of duties and negligence by officers in the TOC.

After losing her son, Susan volunteered full-time to help bring public attention to a life-saving test developed by Oft Labs in Mount Laurel, NJ. It can be used to rapidly detect cancer cells, toxic chemicals and infectious agents. A study conducted at Emory University demonstrated that non-invasive oral swabs employed in the new technique are more accurate and far less expensive and risky than FDA-approved methods that require drawing blood.

Unfortunately, overcoming our bloated federal bureaucracy can be the toughest barrier to saving lives and making the world a better place. In this case, approval of the new test rests in the hands of the FDA and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

This makes no sense. The FDA, for example, already allows the public to purchase and use oral swabs for genetic testing. The process to gain approval for this same procedure for detecting chemicals and other genes, if required at all, should be streamlined and user friendly, especially when many lives are at stake.

In an effort to expedite the process, I spoke directly with the FDA, which has been slow to approve this test. I also contacted scientists at the National Institute for Standards and Technology. They offered helpful guidance in collecting data that may be of interest to the FDA.

In a letter to President Trump, Susan began: “I am writing to you today, Mr. President, not only on behalf of my own personal healing after the tragic loss of my son … but also as the mother of two daughters and seven grandchildren who is concerned for their legacy, health, and wellness following eight years of inaction by the Obama Administration.” She explained that my efforts to get regulatory agencies to cut through some of the red tape were unsuccessful.

Now, almost ten months later, she has stopped checking her mailbox for a response. Considering all that the Trump Administration has to deal with, the long delay is not surprising. But, to the mother of one brave U.S. Marine who died to make life better for the rest of us, the new test has important applications. Potentially, it could save the lives of many men and women serving in the Armed Services—a fitting tribute to the life her son gave for his country.

Aaron lost his life because Government bureaucrats were too busy taking care of policies within the federal bureaucracy to provide the tactical support they promised to Aaron and his band of brothers. To at least one Gold Star Mother, President Trump may be the only hope that her son did not give his life in vain.

Susan is not alone. For many, Donald Trump is the first president in modern times to seriously focus on downsizing the federal bureaucracy and making it work for average Americans. Yes, he’s unorthodox. But the time when orthodoxy can fix our massive federal bureaucracy is long past. We cannot simply wait for it to collapse under its own weight, and take us all down with it.

On November 11, Susan will be the keynote speaker at the American Veterans Ball, which will be held at the Fredericksburg EXPO & Conference Center in Fredericksburg, VA. My wife and I will join her and musician Dave Bray, who will sing the National Anthem. Together, we will celebrate Aaron’s life, and give thanks for the sacred offering he and others have made to preserve and protect our Freedoms. The public is invited.

David L. Lewis, Ph.D., Research Director for the Focus for Health Foundation, is the author of Science for Sale: How the US Government Uses Powerful Corporations and Leading Universities to Support Government Policies, Silence Top Scientists, Jeopardize our Health, and Protect Corporate Profits.

Perspectives expressed in op-eds are not those of The Daily Caller.