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I’ve imagined the following exchange hundreds of times. It sounds so stupid, but it must be the way things really work in America.

Veterans Administration Employee: “Hello, I’m Bob Hammelflicker. How can I help you today?”

Veteran: “I’m Casey Williams, and I could really use a new leg.”

Bob: “What’s wrong with your current leg?”

Casey: “There isn’t anything wrong with my right leg, but my left leg is missing below my knee.”

Bob: “I didn’t notice you were missing a leg when you walked into the office.”

Casey: “It was more of a severe limp, actually. The Army gave me a prosthetic leg before I was discharged, but it has never fit right and is always painful. I’ve got a civilian job where I have to walk a great deal and this leg isn’t working out. I need a new one.”

Bob: “So your leg isn’t actually missing, is it?”

Casey: “What?”

Bob: “Well, Mr. Casey, you have a leg don’t you. You say it is prosthetic, and I have no reason to doubt that, so it isn’t really missing.”

Casey: “Doubt me! What the fuck, Bob? I lost my original left leg when an IED blew up the Humvee I was driving. I was in the Army for 9 years. I had six deployments into combat. I have two Purple Hearts, the second one is for losing my left leg.”

Bob: “Calm down, Mr. Williams. First we have to get proof that you were even in the Army.”

Casey: “Proof, proof…what do you think, I’m just some one-legged bum that thought I’d go see if I could scam a new leg off of the VA?”

Bob: “No, but we have to make sure you are eligible for a leg before we can help you with the application for a new leg.”

Casey: “Eligible? Eligible…I had two perfectly good legs the day I was sworn in. I had two perfectly good legs for most of the nine years I was in the Army. I was mustered out of the Army with one perfectly good leg and a fake leg. Two legs when I came in and one leg when I came out. Isn’t that eligible?”

Bob: “On the surface, yes, it sounds like you are eligible, but the VA has a process, and we have to stick to the process.”

Casey: “Process?”

Bob: “Yes, a process. Assuming you were in the Army and that your leg was removed in a traffic accident…”

Casey: “Traffic accident? My leg was blown into a bloody mist by an IED.”

Bob: “That’s one of the things we will have to determine…”

Casey: “Ask the fucking Army, Bob. They must have written this all down somewhere.”

Bob: “That’s one of things you will need to provide before we can get you examined by VA doctors.”

Casey: “I have to provide proof? I already provided a leg, isn’t that enough? And why in the holy hell does a VA doctor have to see me?”

Bob: “We have to determine the extent of your injury.”

(Casey fumbles with something below the desk top. He lifts a prosthetic leg above his head and slams it on the desk in front of Bob.)

Casey: “There you go, Bob, that’s the extent of my injury.”

(Bob pushes a button on his phone and leans in close to the phone.)

Bob: “Security, please send two officers to my office immediately: we’ve got another one.”

We owe these men and women. We owe all the people that served in peace and in war. There is no excuse for making these people beg for their benefits.

I know a lawyer that spends most of his time fighting with the United States government to get veterans what they were promised they could have when they signed up. That is wrong.

If we can’t take care of our veterans, we are not a civilized nation. They bet their lives on us, and we make them dance like puppets to get their due.

I have ranted about this before. I will rant about this again. We were complicit in fucking up these people’s lives, and we better be complicit in getting them what they were promised.

Currently, waits to be deemed eligible for VA benefits can be measured in years. YEARS!

Someone with PTSD waiting years to find out they can get help is a crime. Telling someone with PTSD that their request for help has been rejected because of some stupid technicality is a mortal sin.

If the United States of America doesn’t have the will to take care of the men and women that have given their bodies for potential sacrifice, we haven’t the will to do anything anymore.

I have a part-time job two nights a week. One of the “kids” I work with was sworn into a Marine Corps delayed entry enlistment on Wednesday. I hope he has the most uneventful, boring career any Marine ever had. I feel that way because I don’t want him to have to depend on us they way we may have to depend on him.

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Comment Preferences

  •  My nephew-in-law, my niece's husband, (4+ / 0-)

    came back in one piece from Iraq, having served in the Marine Corps. I told him I was glad to see him returned to us intact.
    He replied, "Yeah, well, I have my days..."

    If we as a nation can't or won't keep our promises to our veterans, then we should refrain from producing more veterans until we can. No enlistments until the other end gets caught up. If that, by some miracle, became law, you'd see things turn around for our vets within days, not years.

    I believe in democracy, civil liberties, and the rule of law. That makes me a liberal, and I’m proud of it. - Paul Krugman

    by Gentle Giant on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 07:51:23 AM PST

  •  It has been the VA's position regarding any (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joy of Fishes, FloridaSNMOM

    widespread malady, be it from Agent Orange, PTSD, Gulf War Syndrome and now the need for prosthetic limbs, to wait until many of their would be patients have passed on before they admit they might be at fault. I feel that's why they are dragging their feet regarding the suicide rate of returning veterans. To them it's one less patient.
    Look how long it took for something as lethal as can be, Agent Orange, to be linked to any of the symptoms and illness brought on by bare chested and sweating airmen in Thailand loading the material, to the troops on the ground where it was spread right on top of their living quarters, mess tents and jungle through which they fought. They waited until most had passed before finding anything wrong with Agent Orange, which contained a particularly nasty Dioxin.
    There is a special place of Karma for those so called Scientist's who declared it safe and continued the lack of coverage by the VA

    "If you tell the truth, you won't have to remember anything", Mark Twain

    by Cruzankenny on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 08:21:36 AM PST

  •  Having worked on the inside of that (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joy of Fishes, Spirit of Life

    place as a veteran trying to serve veterans it was immensely frustrating. Every effort is made to make "numbers". While in theory this is a good idea, the practical application fell way short. It is not just the men and women who served in this current mess, oh no. Its all of the veterans we have. WWII vets are dying out at a rate of 1200 or more per week. Those a death benefits that those people are entitled to. In some cases when there is a surviving spouse there is also a monthly benefit that they are entitled to. The vets from Korea, Vietnam, Gulf 1 and all the current mess are also due the things that they were promised. Add all that up. Lots of folks needing lots of service and they are not getting it.
    I will say that once a veteran is in the VA health care system, that the care is outstanding and should be made available to every citizen.
    Consider that the VA is hiring as fast as its budget allows. bright eyed bushy tailed college grads with zero military experience of any kind. Add red tape. Lots of it. Add stupid laws and law decisions. It becomes very similar to dealing with an insurance company that routinely denies claims. It drove me nuts.
    When our vets are asking for help, and believe me it takes more guts for most of these people to ask than anything they ever did in the service, those needs should be met in incredibly short order.
    The problems facing the VA and the veterans is two fold.
    1.) Not enough resources
    2.) A hostile system to allocate those resources.
    With hypocritical republicans owning the house do not expect either of those problems to resolved, let alone seriously looked at any time soon. We are effectively saying to our vets "Sucks to be you. Deal with it."

    Give blood. Play hockey.

    by flycaster on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 08:42:29 AM PST

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