Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Bullets to blue pills

Vincent Agquiz

In July 2023, Congress geared up to vote on yet another massive American defense package. Congresswoman Summer Lee (PA-12) put Department of Defense (DOD) Director of Contracting, John Tenaglia, in the hot seat, questioning how much America’s military spends on Viagra, F-35 parts and Alaskan king crab.

The U.S. spends more on national defense than most other countries combined.  However, there is significant financial mismanagement at the DOD’s expense. In 2022, the military budget reached an all-time high of $877 billion. This is not the only instance of financial mismanagement; the Pentagon has failed its annual audit for the sixth year in a row. 

During that same year, the U.S. military spent an average of $41.6 million on Viagra alone. Viagra is a drug used to treat erectile dysfunction and sometimes pulmonary arterial hypertension.

A portion of that $41.6 million could be allocated to rebuild damaged infrastructure. For example, it would cost Pittsburgh $25.3 million to rebuild the city’s Fern Hollow Bridge, which previously collapsed — only a fraction of what the military spends on erectile dysfunction pills.

While Viagra can assist in treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder among retired service members, it could be worthwhile to explore redirecting a portion, not all, of these funds to other benefits aiding veterans struggling with mental health issues.

In 2016, a House investigation found that Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighter jet program cost around $1.7 trillion. The Government Accountability Office discovered between May 2018 and October 2022 that one million F-35 spare parts, valued at $85 million, were simply “lost.”

Millions of tax dollars are vanishing due to mishandled funds. This money could significantly impact various government programs, yet it disappears because spare parts were lost. 

The mishandling of funds does not stop at Viagra. In 2018, the DOD spent $2.3 million solely on Alaskan king crab and an additional $2.3 million on lobster tails. This money could be redirected to necessities benefiting American citizens. If the military desires to indulge in high-end foods, plenty of other options are more cost-friendly.

The staggering mismanagement of funds within the DOD raises serious concerns about allocating taxpayer money. While national defense is essential, resources must be used efficiently and responsibly. The mass spending on items such as Viagra, F-35 spare parts and luxury foods like Alaskan king crab and lobster tails highlights the urgent need for greater transparency and oversight in defense spending.

The funds wasted on unnecessary expenses could be redirected to address pressing issues such as infrastructure development, student loan forgiveness, mental health support for veterans and other critical programs that benefit American citizens. The DOD should be held accountable and ensure that taxpayer dollars are used effectively to serve the best interests.

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About the Contributor
Kara Lee
Kara Lee, Graphic Editor
Kara is a communication major on track to graduate in 2025. After graduating they hope to work for non-profits that specialize in environmental concerns so they can give back to the planet that provides so much for us. When Kara is not in school or working they can be found either drawing or hiking.

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