Veteran is Not a Dirty Word

Veteran is Not a Dirty Word

Lines from Rambo: First Blood Part II

Col. Trautman: The war, everything that happened here may have been wrong, but damnit, don’t hate your country for it!

Rambo: Hate? I’d die for it!

Trautman: Then what is it you want?

Rambo: I want…what they want, and every other guy who came over here, and spilled his guts and gave everything he had wants… for our country to love us as much as we love it. That’s what I want.

Trautman: How will you live, John?

Rambo: Day by day.

I sat down and watched this movie the other day. These are the last lines of the movie before Rambo goes walking off and the credits roll. I couldn’t help but think about all the mess going on in the country and how these words relate. I am a veteran and proud of it. Stories about veterans in our society are increasing and intensifying.

There is a big scandal going on with the Veterans Administration and our government seems to be doing nothing about it. Men and women who fought bravely for this country are being given worse treatment than our own prisoners. The healthcare system is subpar, crooked, and we are treated like third rate citizens. A good portion of society thinks we are all just gun crazed psychopaths, ready to walk into a mall and start shooting.

I recently read an article about a young Marine who suffered from seizures. He scheduled an appointment for Neuro in October 2013. They said they couldn’t see him until December, 70 days later. The young man died of a seizure 24 days before his scheduled appointment. Now, dare you say, this is not really the VA’s fault. VA’s own rule states that for something like Neuro, the longest allowed wait for an appointment is 14 days… not 70. But the story doesn’t end there. Four days after the young Marine’s death, he called the VA, canceled his appointment and rescheduled it for a later date. Four days after he died, he called from the grave, apparently.

This is what I am talking about. This man served his country and needed help and our own country gave him the middle finger. The real reason for this is numbers. The VA is so incompetent that they must forge their numbers.

It’s not our fault there are long appointment times, the veterans are rescheduling and canceling.

Even after death, apparently. Money is the motivator. They have so much to do but if they aren’t meeting quotas, they need a scapegoat/patsy/a cause to blame… the Veterans. Once again, despite all the crap we took in the service, all the mystery shots, exposure to hazardous situations and waste, now we are back home and getting the same rear end job without a damn reach around.

Here’s a number for them – 22. About 22 veterans a day kill themselves because of this kind of treatment. 22 a day is 22 too many. I am diagnosed with PTSD for my combat experiences in Iraq. I feel like a normal human being but I am aware of the lasting effects the war had on me. I don’t pity myself. I show apathy to most things people find important. When something happens I laugh and say out loud for people to hear, “First world problems.” I think a lot of vets feel this way.

One anxiety I do have is sending me to a therapist who has never served in combat or even our country. Countless times I have met with a VA psychiatrist to learn they are fresh out of school. What kind of life situations can you relate to me about?

I once had to stay up all night and study for a test when all my friends were out partying.

I can imagine them saying this. Stay up late? Try running a mission across Iraq with zero sleep, get caught up by an IED, and then pull guard duty as soon as you get to the base you were heading for. Or worse, pull like the third hour of duty. That sucks. All this while your friends are partying back home because you traded in your prime years for your country.

It would seem the VA is disconnected; they have no idea what we have done because they can’t relate. They are driven by self-interest because they are a For-Profit company. An old Vietnam vet told me this one. Keep fighting for all your benefits no matter what they say. They have people in an office that don’t want to give you your money that you earned because, at the end of the year, they get bonuses back from the money they don’t give out to the vets. Men and women that never served are getting bigger paychecks from our government than I am.

Well, what do you want?

I want what Rambo wanted. I want my country to love us as much as we love it. I want to stop hearing about how this person couldn’t get a job because they are deemed hostile because they went to war. I want to stop hearing stories about how a veteran had to remove his flag or military service decals from his vehicle because the HOA housing is offended by his patriotism. I want for Americans to start taking pride back in their country.

I want to hear people saying this is a free country again. Growing up I heard that a lot. You don’t hear it anymore. I want to say that I am a veteran and not have people look at me like I’m going to snap on them. I want people to stop feeling sorry for me because I went to war. I am not sorry for this and in fact, it was one of the best experiences in my life.

I want people to stop telling me how I need treatment for my PTSD when they don’t know me. I want people to stop telling me that now I’m married and have a kid, I need to really watch myself. I’m not ashamed of my country or the actions of my country. I am not ashamed of the things I did in Iraq and I will not apologize for it. I am not one of these guys that want to cry and feel sorry for myself. I just want to chase my dreams of being a writer (which is my therapy), have a good paying job that I work hard at, and come home every night to a loving wife and child. I want a good affordable home and a running truck.

I want for my brothers and sisters in arms to hold their heads up proud and to be respected by their Government. And yes, we will live like everyone else, day by day.

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