On the anniversary of D-Day I cannot help but think about the role the VA has played in the lives of generations of Americans and their service to this country. We do not live with a draft, more people vote for American Idol than the Presidency, and the greatest generation is dying off at a rapid rate. As a result, the Service Men and Women abroad affect the national consciousness with significantly less impact today than they did 67 years ago.
I specifically think about what the greatest generation went through to earn benefits from the VA. Claims written by hand. Eventually typewriters. Computers? Not until 30 plus years after the war ended. PTSD was not even formally accepted as a diagnosis until 1980. We have it easy. Still, frustrations with the VA are at every turn.
Each time I engage the VA there are very distinct mental adjustments I have to make depending on the “branch” I am contacting. The VA essentially has two companies that rarely talk to each other and have diametrically opposing missions housed under the same roof. One scrutinizes, interrogates and ensures validity, the other embraces the individual to provide world class health care. I cannot get to one without going through the other.
The bureaucracy that is a lynchpin of the VA will continue to frustrate Veterans for the foreseeable future. I, like others, waited what seemed like an eternity to hear back on my claims. It adds stress and is at times so convoluted that there almost needs to be (and in some cases are) a mental health group just for people dealing with waiting.
But, once you are accepted and into the system the healing places like the Northport VA Medical Facility and the practitioners cannot be commended enough for the tireless work that is done daily. If you are waiting, hang in there.
Listen, I am not a fan boy. I am trying to tell it like I see it. But, because of the unique job Service Members have, there is not another medical institution that comes close to understanding Veterans the way the VA does. Try and find a PTSD center with the experience the VA has. We are kinda stuck… With the good and the bad. I am not going to make it my mission to point out the injustices of the system (in this blog or elsewhere). Plenty of people and groups do that already. I will however, listen and help whomever I can through this blog and other social media.
As stated earlier, today marks the 67th anniversary of D-Day. I ask that today you think not only about the sacrifices made that day, but the sacrifices of those who lived on and carried or carry their burdens (One in my family in particular comes to mind). I hope the effort of our current Service Members are never forgotten. I will do my part to honor the brave men and women of World War II, DDay, Korea, Vietnam, and all the others. I hope when you read this, you will at least give pause.
“First at Normandy!”