I had a lifelong friend and working partner who served in the Army and fought in the jungles of Vietnam. During one of the battles he was seriously wounded and a blood transfusion was necessary on the battlefield. My friend recovered but was inflicted with Hepatitis C as a result of the transfusion.
For close to 40 years, this veteran was cared for by the VA. Numerous rounds of interferon amounted to 48 weeks of hell on his body, but with the terrific care he received from the VA, this man was able to lead as much of a normal life as possible.
My great friend passed away at the age of 58 from liver cancer, which is the end game for anyone with Hepatitis C. Yet my friend faced it all with courage. Courage that was supported by the excellent care he always raved about from the Veterans Administration.
For those today who want to bash the VA for the present conditions they must work under, I suggest they give pause and even look into the mirror.
The war machine of this nation continues to chew up our military. This country consistently engages in wars around the globe, usually for illegal, immoral and unnecessary reasons. Young men and women are sent to do battle and suffer tremendous physical and mental consequences. Then we toss them to the VA and say “fix them.”
A few million vets have flooded the VA in recent years with the winding down of two unnecessary wars that sent these brave souls back to the war theater again and again and again. Multiple deployments never seen before by the military resulting in physical and psychological trauma unique in their damage.
Yet we have a government that initiated those wars and now point their hypocritical fingers at the VA, a system with a huge shortage in doctors and a budget at the mercy of a sitting Congress.
Losing Gen. Eric Shinseki will do nothing to make the system better. The man worked hard to make improvements in an almost impossible situation.
This is the same general that stood up and told President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney that the Iraq war would be a huge mistake. He also took over a VA that had backlog problems dating back to 2003.
Can you imagine what a job the VA would face if the likes of Sen. John McCain and Sen. Lindsay Graham had their way and we would have invaded Syria, Iran and the Ukraine?
So in memory of my friend, he would want me to say this. He would say thank you to the VA for the care they gave him. But more importantly, he would implore us to stop the war machine. Allow our nation and our military to heal.
My friend deserves to be on the Vietnam Wall with all the others who died as a result of that war. It just took him longer to expire from his war wounds. Wounds the VA treated to give him a longer and happier life.