I have to tell you a little about myself. I served twenty years in the Armed Forces in service to my country. I joined the U.S. Navy during the last year of President Reagan’s administration and retired during President George W. Bush’s. During that time, I volunteered for the Gulf War (my orders to the USS Nassau were suspended when my own unit, USS Wasp, received orders to join the war effort. The war ended before my ship was to sail but I did participate in refugee operations), the Kosovo Campaign (where I was decorated with a Navy Marine Corps Achievement medal) and even volunteered for the Iraq War; which I was deployed to in support of twice. For my service in Iraq, I was given a promotion, a Navy Commendation Medal, and both the Global War on Terrorism Service and Expeditionary Medals.
I was a very dedicated sailor during my time. I gave 110% towards everything I was involved in even when I did not agree with the mission I was assigned to. I did this because I felt it was my duty to do so. I believed that this is what was expected of me when I rose my hand and said, “I do solemny swear …”
I have never been a fan of sick call. I thought that sick call was for the walking wounded, those who spent their weekends getting drunk only to face hangovers on Monday morning. If I got a sniffle, I took some Tylenol. A headache; some aspirin. An ache or pain; I sucked it up. Suffer from depression? I saw a counselor at Family Services on my own time. Again, this is what I thought I was supposed to do. As time wore on my service time began to take a toll on my body. My knees ached from walking upon steel decks and climbing ladders. I developed sleep apnea and Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) which, at times, can be so painful that walking becomes difficult. During the last two years of my service, I couldn’t postpone it anymore … I took a trip to sick call.
I was placed on Requip for my RLS and after several sleep exams, given a C-Pap to deal with my apnea.
I expected that the U.S. government, who I had supported so loyally, would take care of me when I retired (oh, by the way, thank you for the plaque which has my name misspelled on it.)
I was wrong.
I received a letter in the mail just the other day from the Veterans Administration. In the letter, I was told, in a overly worded 3 page document, that I had been denied my medical benefits upon review of my medical record. I was denied my benefits, not because they (my ailments) do not exist, but because my medical record wasn’t documented enough. In a nutshell, I didn’t complain loudly enough while I was on active duty.
So much for trying to live up to an image.
Since I left the service I have found employment hard to near impossible to come by. With all the talk about PTSD, it seems that no one wants to hire a veteran because they (HROs) fear that if we ‘snap’ while working for them, they might have to pay for our medical bills. I have a meager retirement that is divided between paying my bills and an alimoney check. I’m left with less than 50 bucks in my bank account after all of this. That’s not enough to pay for health insurance.
So, after serving my country for twenty years I have a box full of medals, citations and awards and that is about it.
I don’t even hear from the ‘guys’ I worked with anymore. They don’t want to hear from me.
I have the thanks of a grateful nation who is so ungrateful that they won’t even give me a job and they consider me a liability.
They were happy to send me to war but won’t even look me in the eye during an interview to say “I’m not going to hire you”. They save that for the form letters and messages left on answering machines or no message at all.
I’m now nothing more than a ghost; a mere shadow of what I was which I am not even sure exactly what that was.
I feel a bit betrayed by all of this and, for all my loyalty, I don’t understand this betrayal. I had your back, why didn’t you have mine?
I was a puppet; a marionette, taught to dance the dance my puppeteers made for me.
So, with no further ado, please allow this former Gulf War, Kosovo and Iraq War Veteran to tell the VA and my dear, dear Uncle Sam, Thank you for all that you have, and have not done for me, but also, No thank you.
If I had my dithers, I’d disown my uncle right here and now.
5 replies on “Thank You Uncle Sam But No Thanks”
This makes my blood boil. How can our government justify asking someone to fight for our nation and then dump them to the side of the road when they become a liability. This just isn’t right.
Thanks for linking to this story, Cats. This is just so awful — and WRONG! It’s always been my position that if you serve your country, especially in a time of war, you should be able to walk into any hospital or clinic and be treated for free — for the rest of your life.
And whatever happened to giving a veteran first shot at jobs? Twenty years of service to your country is excellent training for most any kind of job.
I’m with you, Cats. My blood is boiling.
This letter is incredibly well written. It says it all and should be sent to every member of congress and every newspaper.
Hey, the game is over; we do not take care of our own. The $’s have been spent on the needless war game that the money people play. Do what is needed and make it be known, but those in power will say “so?”
From what I understand it would seem that you would have to die or have been mortally injured (like loose a limp, eye or part of something) to get money.
I am sorry you had to find out later in life that this is the case.
Also I am sorry you had to find out later on that by not calling out sick when you probably could have has turned you into a person that they feel is broken because you don’t have a medical history of having anything wrong with you… so now they think you are just old and broken and something else must of happened.
Finally, I am still unsure as to why they denied you. I mean I understand (as I wrote above), but at the same time you OBVIOUSLY was a vet and OBVIOUSLY got what you go due to being a vet so why can’t you get on it? That is what it is there for.
While you have time on your hands, you should write (and document when you sent letter and who you sent them to) to your representatives as well as appeal the decision the VA made. Also find a news station reporter and send them something too. If you can afford to send some of the “return receipt” USPS then do it so you have a record of sending the mail.
Most importantly, THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE AND PROTECTING ME AND MY FAMILY.
I solute you sir.