Thank you for being expendable

I enrolled in the V.A. health care system in 2004, soon after a year of service in Iraq. I’ve been to countless V.A. hospitals since, and they’re all the same. If you want to know what the price of freedom looks like, go to a V.A. waiting room — wheelchairs, missing limbs, walking wounded, you get all of the above. One day not long ago, while waiting for my PTSD medication, I struck up a conversation with a Vietnam veteran, who told me the message he’d gotten from his treatment at the V.A., and his country, was not “Thank you for serving,” but “Thank you for being expendable.”

I agreed with him. 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…

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.

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