Get Rid of the VA
I am an American veteran. I volunteered. Actually, in my case, after ticking off my father for the last time, he volunteered me. Dad was in the first wave of Marines that assaulted Iwo Jima in WWII, was one of three in his platoon who lived and wasn’t too keen on a smart-aleck pimply faced seventeen year old so he dropped me in front of a recruiter on November 27, 1972 and said, “He wants to be a cook.” I was privileged to eventually become a pilot and end up serving twenty years on active duty and reserves in both the Marine Corps and with an inter-service transfer, Navy reserves. Flying was a blast and I still can’t believe they let the likes of me sign for an aircraft then take it out and fly and get paid for it. Plus, I got to serve with the finest human beings on the planet. For that I am eternally grateful. Now to the point:
If you haven’t been under a rock, you’ve heard of the “VA scandal” and all the conservative hair lighting on fire over it. What a surprise that the VA treats veterans like a bad afterthought and the VA bureaucracy treats themselves like kings who don’t have time for the pesky, annoying vets who are always whining about waiting, and waiting, and waiting until they die. Who knew that hasn’t been happening for decades?
In 1892, Rudyard Kipling published Tommy. It is a poem about Tommy Atkins, the generic term for a soldier in England. It’s written in the first person and is Tommy’s observations of how his own country feels about him, how his country treats him and how his nation is utterly and totally clueless what military service means, what it is and what it provides them. I implore you to Google it and read it.
But it’s Tommy this and Tommy and Tommy go away
But thank you Mr Atkins when the band begins to play
Tommy is talking about YOU. That is this nation. You say, “But I said, ‘Thank you for your service!” Well, by all means, the vet who was promised medical care for his service and will die while waiting in line is all better now because you “cared.”
And there’s this line in Tommy:
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.
That’s about the people you elect. You see, both Republicans and Democrats use us as their political footballs. In other words, they need the VA to abuse us so they can look into the cameras and show their serious concern about the vets. “I demand to know what VA hospital wait time records were made up,” Representative Depends screams while the cameras are rolling. Oh you’ll re-elect him because he supports the vets like you do. After all, he thanked the vets too, on the House floor no less. Very impressive, and touching; but guess what? That same vet he’s so concerned about is still waiting and will continue to wait until he dies because he received no promised medical care. And I cannot wait to see the “cured” by the “Obama’s New VA” disabled veteran sitting next to the first lady next January at the State of the Union dog and pony show while her husband asks us once again to let him be clear and tell us how he supports the veterans while he blames their lack of medical care on the GOP.
So it will again be, “What VA problem? I said thank you for your service, so there can’t be a VA hospital problem.” Yes, the nation is that stupid. And no, I’m not bitter. I’m telling you the truth and you’re probably incensed by it. And you’re outraged that there’s even a hint that you could have anything to do with the appalling treatment visited on those who provide you that freedom to be appalled. Hey, genius. You don’t care. How do I know? Read Tommy…again then read another article about vets dying and the VA admin receiving bonuses while those vets die and think about how your personal hurt feelings outrage is doing zip for that dying vet.
Then there is and will continue to be the conservative talk show hosts who will make literally millions of dollars blathering on about how Obama mistreats veterans and how it got worse on his watch (and they’re right. It did), but “Thank you for your service.” As if we we’re supposed to say, “Oh wow, what a thrill.” Uh huh. They need the issue too, just like the politicians. Oh they might wish it will get better but they too know as businessmen, the issue is their currency and the nation is dumb enough to provide them with such a lucrative natural resource. Next caller please.
Hence, politicians need the issue to make their poll numbers go up and the talk show hosts need it as a source of hot button angst for their audience to make their advertising numbers go up. The result: Washington will throw money at a bloated VA bureaucracy which will do absolutely nothing for the vets, yet fool you (like that’s hard) into believing that they solved the problem. Do you really think we’re that stupid? Remember this line in Tommy?
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool -- you bet that Tommy sees!
Yeah, we see. So here’s the solution; simply get rid of the VA hospital system and medical system. That’s right, since it essentially does nothing for the vets anyway and since the promises are going to be forever broken (and they are, because there’s proof. It’s called history), just stop pretending and get rid of the whole thing. Instead of making veterans feel like they’re begging for something they were promised as a real and meaningful thanks for their service; and instead of destroying any semblance of their personal dignity with the VA wait system; and instead of using vets as a political and conservative talk show football; and instead of making a joke out of the ridiculous, “thank you for your service,” while vets continue to die waiting for promised medical care, abolish the VA. It will at least be an open and honest insult and kick in the gut instead of the humiliating subterfuge while vets wait and die. Man up. Look us in the eyes and speak the truth, “You’re on your own Tommy. I can’t be bothered by you. I have too much freedom to take advantage of.” The freedom we’ve provided is worth the trouble to us anyway without the pretty packaged insults, broken promises and without being used by both sides for personal and political gain.
And I guarantee, “You bet that Tommy sees.”