Veterans and this country
One man was missing an eye. Another had no left arm. Others had extreme coughs and limps. All appeared poor, wearing stained sweat pants and old shirts and out-of-style tattered shoes. They were Veterans. The heart and soul of America. And there they sat at the Milwaukee Veteran’s Hospital awaiting treatment. What they’ve seen and been through could only be understood by somebody else who’d lived through it. Many probably held their buddies as his final breath left his lungs. Yet, they are poor and take the Metro bus for their medical treatment; they can’t afford cars.
As I stood in the lobby of the hospital awaiting to register with the VA, my heart was filled with agony. It hurt to see these men. Not because they were a sight for sore eyes, but because they sacrificed so much for their country and “shabby” medical treatment hardly seems like a just reward. Why is it this country will dish out millions to pay the salary of an NBA player, but only pay its police officers and soldiers an average of $30,000? What’s more is an injured Veteran receives disability, but the most you can receive off of full disability is less than my yearly salary.
I very badly wanted to walk up to one man in particular and say “I’m sorry.” He was a black man and could not stop shaking. He stuttered and had a limp in his right leg. He still wore his old issued field jacket; no doubt the same one he wore in Vietnam. I don’t know what’s wrong with him, other than the obvious. Unlike the others I saw, he didn’t take the bus or drive. He had a backpack and after his appointment, he walked away from the hospital. I assume he was homeless.
I’m sure at one point in his life he was an up and comer. A kid with dreams to be a baseball player or a store owner. But his life was changed after his country asked a favor. He may not have wanted to serve, but he selflessly dodged bullets and chased the enemy through tunnels and slept at night praying he wakes up in the morning. And now he needs a favor from his country, and all “We the People” can offer is pro-rated medical care and a discount on a loan. It hardly seems fair. Even still, I think respect is probably what he desires most or a simple thank you from the same generation who once spat on him. Rather, he’s looked at as a bum.
It’s easy for people to say… “the war was a long time ago. People need to just get over it.” No doubt, these naysayers are the same people who would rather read about latest updates on Michael Jackson’s trial rather than a short bio of a deceased soldier. I wonder sometimes if our country has its priorities right. Then, I open the newspaper and Martha Stewart is on the front page while the war is under “international” news buried inside. To say the least, it’s just frustrating.