The media are filled with stories. Young men and women performing the ultimate sacrifice so that America can be free, or some such rubbish. Not the sacrifice part, for heaven’s sake. But surely we all have to wonder what getting killed in Iraq has to do with my freedom to buy a car or watch a Mariners game.
Don’t take my word for it. Here’s a veteran of that war with an op-ed in the New York Times. The title of his essay is “Thank You for Being Expendable.” He writes:
…Soldiers are expendable in war, and veterans are expendable and forgotten about when they return. That’s just the way it is. This recent V.A. “scandal” over prolonged wait time for veteran care doesn’t surprise me one bit. Politicians and many hawkish Americans are quick to send our sons and daughters to go off to fight in wars on foreign soil, but reluctant to pay the cost.
Once, nearly homeless and plagued with thoughts of jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge, I showed up at a V.A. hospital and told them I was in bad shape and needed some help. I was holding a coffee cup. The doctor asked me how much coffee I drank in an average day. I told her; she then advised me to cut down to one cup a day. When I asked if she could possibly prescribe any medication to go with that one cup a day, she refused. “We used to prescribe drugs all the time,” she explained. “OxyContin, Percocet, Dolophine, Methadose, Vicodin, Xodol, hydrocodone.” But veterans were getting addicted, she said, even dying, from overprescription so doctors had been told to cut back on prescribing. Go down to one cup of coffee day, she told me again, and see how you feel.
I think this recent scandal may be the best thing ever to happen to our veterans and hope some change will take place because of it. God knows it’d be nice for veterans to just call or walk into a V.A. hospital and see somebody and be taken care of the same day. I don’t think that’d be asking a lot. There might be a lot more of us alive today if that was the case. Sadly, it’s not. Even on Memorial Day, the wait at the V.A. goes on.
Oh, and it should not be lost on us that Obama’s “surprise” visit to Afghanistan had everything to do with deflecting attention away from the VA mess he vowed to repair when running for office. Golly, there seems to be a pattern here.