Dying Because Of Your Country
Veteran’s issues came into sharp focus in Austin a few days ago. We lost another soldier when he walked into a VA clinic and shot himself in front of hundreds of people.
I had no idea that this is a thing that has been happening. I mean, vets take their own life all the time, but I didn’t know they were steady offing themselves at the clinics. Here, scroll this. In fact, it happened in my back yard over the weekend.
Now, normally when a story like this grabs the public, a good government would take notice and pledge to reduce the number of veterans killing themselves because they don’t have enough access to care. But since we don’t have one, the number of suicides at hospitals will continue unabated. The current administration is trying to monetize the VA as they do with all their Cabinet positions, handing over delicate specialty care to private practice- not to improve care, but to profit.
I have a tendency to come to the VA’s defense because I have gotten nothing but top notch care from them. I have never wanted for an appointment. When I needed psychiatric inpatient services, my wife was able to do with me what she needed to do for all of our sake. Today, thanks to all the hard work people did at the VA to get me here, I have come out the other side of a dangerous, merciless and unrelenting disease like bipolar disorder. I’m experiencing more clarity than I ever have in the past, perhaps even more than I did before the illness reared its head and ruined my career as a soldier and a productive member of society. I’ve battled for over 13 years at the least to get where I am right now and my doctors have been right by my side in the fight. So generally, when people tell me the VA sucks, I tell them to go fuck themselves.
But these horrid shootings cannot be ignored by me nor the federal government anymore. I am very fortunate that I am only a 25 minute drive to the VA. Lots of vets have to travel much longer than that, and that’s unacceptable. We are still in the middle of the longest war in American history and I don’t think we have significantly improved the infrastructure to deal with the flow of broken warriors. This map clearly shows that vets in several regions are under-served, especially in the places where soldiers generally come from to escape urban hopelessness and rural ennui. They shouldn’t have to go back to their home of record not knowing where to turn for soldier trauma, which is unique.
It’s going to take a herculean attempt to right this wrong. But this congress and this president have no stomach to meet the challenge with the unparalleled power of the federal government. Anything that costs money costs too much, unless we are shoveling out cash to corporations and banks who cannot stay afloat without a bailout. With all the ballyhoo about “taking care of the troops”, by doing nothing to meet the needs of soldiers when they come back we are currently saluting service with one hand and shooting the finger with the other.