Archive for the ‘US Healthcare’ Category

Assumptions

November 5, 2012

Hi All,

I wanted to share what happened last Friday. I called the main VA in Iowa City, to set up my follow-up appointment. The woman who answered the phone had absolutely no personality, and acted like she was very irritated she had to answer her phone. Tip one for this lady, if you don’t like answering the phone to schedule appointments, get another job. Duh!

Anyway, she proceeded in the gruff tone, this is the conversation we had:

VA: NAME?

Me: B****

VA: What’s his last 4?

Me: 1234

VA: Oh this isn’t working, was that V as in Vern, or D as in Dog?

Me: B as in BOY

VA: What’s his first name?

Me: (I gave my first name, which could be considered androgynous)

VA: His middle name?

Me: CATHERINE

VA: Oh

Might I state there is no way anyone could ever guess I was a man on the phone, I most definately have a high-pitched, woman’s voice. She never went on to say she was sorry or anything, just seemed even more irritated that I was a woman. I did make the appointment, but did this whole thing just piss me off. I texted Joan and told her, she wasn’t too happy either. I didn’t read in the rule book, or the guides I got from the VA that ALL VETS ARE MEN. I swear, I put up with enough of that crap while I was in, I sure don’t need it now. And I am not all that thrilled to be going to the VA to begin with. I told my co-workers about her, and they were kind of pissed off too. I said with her personality, she was more like a grouchy old nun teaching school 30+ years ago.

Never assume anything. I am going to lodge a complaint when I have my next appt, maybe get her some sensitivity training or another job. I have figured out there are only a few times EVER that anyone is safe to assume the sex of the person the appointment is for. Setting up an OBGYN appointment, or a prostrate exam. Other than that, and you are at risk for making an ass out of yourself, which is what happens when we assume.

Change can’t come fast enough,

Brigid

Holding Pattern

November 16, 2010

Hello, Friends.

I survived the Veteran’s Day mess, as a VSO Commander I spent two very busy days preparing for it.  We had multiple ceremonies and a dinner – complete with the typical kitchen problems that all seem to occur.  When my husband kissed me goodbye that morning he wished me, “good luck.”  My response to him was that this is “cake baby…I’m just dancing backwards in high heels.”

That is one of my favorite sayings; “Ginger Rodgers did everything that Fred Astaire did – only she did it backwards and in high heels.”  It is my constant reminder that I am competant and capable as a Veteran, as a Commander, even if I am a woman.

I took a couple of extra days off work to recover.  I was really looking forward to Friday with no responsibilities and no plans.  I crawled into the bathroom at 11:00 am with the plans of a quiet afternoon.  I decided to do my monthly self-breast exam…and the quiet day came to a crashing halt.  I discovered a highly abnormal discharge from my right breast.  A quick trip to the doctor’s office for slides and cultures.  Plans for a mammogram and ultrasound on Monday.

I’m in a holding pattern.  The good news is that the mammogram and the ultrasound came out unremarkable.  The bad news is that even the radiologist was talking about diagnostic surgery – even made a recommendation of a surgeon. 

I am in a holding pattern – waiting on tests.  Thank God for Brigid.  She is watching over me…she knows how I am.  I have just enough medical knowledge to be really scared!  Google and my Merck Manual provides the rest of the reasons to work on moving “scared” to “terror.”

I will let everyone know – for those who are the praying type – dropping in a good word for me is always appreciated.

On the up side the VA is all over this for me.  We are waiting for results from my local MD (who is excellent!) and then they will make all of the necessary referrals so that I don’t have a bill.  Our local University Hospital is NOT a place I like or that I am comfortable with.  As a result, the VA is going to send me to a local Hospital that I do like, it happens to be a Catholic Hospital with a very good track record and great surgeons.  They are also more willing to deal with the PTSD in me.  I had a colonoscopy there that was made so easy by the MD it was almost “cake..baby.”  I didn’t even have to explain my history – he was more than willing to do whatever I needed so that I would be comfortable.  No questions – just action.

So, here I am, hanging loose.  It will be a couple more days before I hear anything.  Until then…I will just keep dancing backwards.

Blessings and Peace.

Joan

Things You Should Know

July 29, 2010

Hello, Friends.

I had a meeting yesterday with someone in a position of authority and knowledge at my workplace about the things that healthcare providers should know.  It was a good meeting – I was a little scatterbrained – but I do that when I am feeling anxious.  However, she is a very good person and cares deeply about the needs of Veterans, so it was great.

I thought that since I have passed this website address out to some healthcare providers that I would take an opportunity to talk about the things I would like to tell you (my doctor)…but just can’t.  Some of the things seem obvious – some maybe not so much.  If you are a survivor and you are reading this blog – please chime in!  Share what you know that can help them to be better at their jobs.

1 – Rape is never, ever about sex.  The person doing the raping may achieve climax – but it is the power and control that causes that – not necessarily the sex act.  Occasionally, I have learned, that the victim may actually achieve climax.  Orgasim is nothing but the body’s response to painful stimuli – like a sneeze.  You may encounter a nasty smell that makes you sneeze – but just because you sneezed – doesn’t mean you liked it!  Same thing with the act of rape.

2.  Just because I work in healthcare does not mean that I am comfortable as a patient.  When I become a patient, I feel that I no longer have any means of control, and that is highly disturbing to me.  Just because I work around male veterans all day doesn’t mean that I am okay sitting in a waiting room full of them.  It is a lack of control that drives me crazy!

3.  I am a powerful advocate….for someone else!  I can express all sorts of things if I feel that I am defending, helping, working for another person…especially, if that person is another survivor.  I will be logical, articulate and professional.  Do not mistake that for the ability to advocate on my own behalf.  If you are my doctor – you know my medical history – just ASK ME what I need.  Make the space a “safe place” for me to express my needs.  ie…”What can I do to help make this exam/procedure  more comfortable for you?”  Don’t side-step the issue that I am a survivor of MST, use it as a chance to help me to trust you, and be willing to be an advocate for me if I need it.  I may not need you to do anything – but knowing you will help me makes it so much easier.

4.  Referrals – if you refer me to another clinic/provider/area – please “make a path” for me.  ASK ME if I need help talking to that clinic, expressing my needs for a specific provider and a specific room requirement.  I hate small rooms without windows and that is even worse when the doctor sits down and blocks the door. 

5.  Medical procedures.  This one is so important!  I am having a cystoscopy tomorrow.  I had to call and get a nurse in that clinic to call me, then I had to explain the problems, then we had to get things set up.  Thankfully, I managed to get one of the best nurses in the world – her question was, “what can I do to help you make this an easy process.”  Then she took over, set it all up and confirmed back to me what I wanted.  It was great!  However, it took me days to make that call, a call that should have been made by my MD when she wrote the consult.

6.  Understand that some procedures are worse than others.  I have a male gyn and I really like him.  He is so funny and easy going that you don’t even know what he’s doing until he’s done.  Very gentle and he listens!  I had a colonoscopy with a male doctor.  I met with him before the procedure for a consult.  One of his first questions was…”how out do you want to be?”  He gave ME the control of the procedure.  I told him I wanted to wake up next Tuesday…and that is exactly how out I was.  The only thing I remember was walking down the hall after the procedure, farting and giggling.  Because the doctor was sensitive to the unhappy nature of the procedure, I was very comfortable.

7.  If I tell you something about my needs – becareful how you ask me “why.”  Don’t challenge me – I don’t mean give me anything I ask for – I mean if I express a need ask for clarification without making me seem stupid.  ie…I am going to be sedated for this procdure and I need a work excuse for my spouse.  “why do you need to be sedated?…it’s just a cystoscopy.”  WRONG STATMENT!  Because you just slammed the door in my face.  Much better – “It is your option to be sedated.  Is there something you are worried about in the procedure?  Can I answer any questions?”  BING – you just gave ME the control and opened the door to my questions and concerns. 

8.  Don’t make me feel like a “baby” if I am afraid.  I am terrified of certain medical procedure.  One fear of mine is pain, especially in the female organs.  The other one is dental work.  Long story on that one that I won’t tell here.

9.  I do not like feeling vulnerable.  Therefore, I do not want to be any more naked than required.  I would like a robe, sheet, blanket…something.  Try not to make me sit waiting for you to come exam me after I am undressed.  Every 5 minutes will feel like an hour and as each “hour” goes by I will become more and more anxious.

10.  Learn to read body language.  If I get real quiet and stop making eye contact…something is wrong.  Remember, I may not be able to express the problem for myself.  You may have to ask a question instead of just plowing ahead.

11.  Rape has many different meanings within the military context.  A person can “submit” to a sexual act with a person senior in rank to protect themselves.  A person can be visciously and brutally attacked.  Both kinds have their own after effects.  Both kinds are rape.  I don’t trust people in a position of authority and I am always watchful for what seems like “abuse of power.”  That is one of my problems.  As a result I sometimes have problems “sticking up for myself.”  It is all in my chart…read it sometime…if you don’t want to read – try asking what I need.  Don’t just assume HOW I was raped and HOW it affects me.

12.  I am an incredibly independent and intelligent woman…yes I am.  If you do not fill in the blanks – I will look for answers on my own.  Please take time to ask me what answers I need.  ie…almost every place I have looked at for “microscopic blood in urine” the answer is CANCER.  Of course, that is the worst case scenario.  Chances are it is nothing or it is a result of scar tissue and damage from my first husband.  Kidney shots were his speciality.  Take 5 when you refer me and say, “this is the possiblities.”  I will feel much better if I know everything than if I know nothing.

13. – Lucky number.  Chain of Command.  I will always follow it.  I can’t help it.  Part of my brain is twisted and will never return.  I always start with my doctor and move up…I won’t jump a rung…I just can’t.  If you can’t do something…if you want it to be someone else’s responsibility…fine.  Tell me that!  Tell me that I can go the next step.  “oh, you need to ask such and such about that…do you need their number?”  You have done your job and I can move forward without feelings of guilt.

14.  If you work with a Veteran population and you know nothing about the military.  ASK SOMEONE.  Surely, someone you work with is military.  If nothing else go and rent shows like, Tour of Duty.  They did a really nice job of displaying military life.  If you work with Women Veterans you need to watch the following list:  Courage Under Fire, GI Jane and the documentary Lioness.  Those are the big three I would recommend.

That is all I have for now.  I will be off the air a day or two.  Versed leaves me stupid.  I am sure that Brigid will post the good news that it is nothing.

Again, if you are a survivor and you have insight…please bring it to me.  Post it here or send to our email address:  www.enemyinthewire@hotmail.com  I can forward this information to people in the medical field and I am working on that.

We are making a difference…one step at a time.

Joan

Triggered

July 22, 2010

I missed work yesterday.  All of my PTSD symptoms came raging in – migraine, abdominal pain, nausea, bowel issues, nightmares/nap mares, pain over my entire body and the ever present chest pounding.  This morning, I am in “hangover” mode, that horrible after feeling where everything is still happening but you know you have to go to work.  Have to.

I’m having my “rat in a cage” feeling.  It is a big cage – but it is a feeling that I am trapped and can’ get free.  Like my own skin is my prison and I can’t crawl out…no matter how much I claw at the flesh.

You know what triggered this?  I can’t get my freaking primary care doctor to write me a simple note so that my husband can accompany me to my cystoscopy appointment so that I can have sedation.  My VA Primary Care MD won’t sign the damn letter.  She’s not sure I need sedation.  She’s not sure why my husband needs a note.  She’s not sure WHY I am freaking out about this.

It is very simple – in reality.  Anytime a person undergoes sedation you need a driver and you need to be “watched.”  It is for the patient’s safety. 

So I called the patient advocate Tuesday.  Called him back Wednesday.  Haven’t heard anything.  Don’t have the note, yet.  Funniest thing is that the note is written – the nurse showed it to me at 0725 on Monday morning.  Anybody note that this is Thursday?

So, now I gotta change Primary Care Providers.  Female Vet – Employee…can’t be seen in the Women’s Clinic because the doctor triggers my symptoms.  I can’t ever trust her again.  I have to work with her.  Every friggin day I have to work with her.  I have to ask the Female Nurse Practitioner in my office if she will take me on as a patient.  If she won’t then I have to go over to the Main Hospital – sit in a waiting room full of male patients.  The question then becomes, “You work with male patients all day – why does sitting with them bother you?” 

There is a distinct difference between being patient and being staff.  I am no longer in “control” when I move to patient mode.  It sounds silly – but it is true.

The reason that the Women’s Clinic is in an outpatient/off-site setting is so that we don’t have to sit around a waiting room with a ton of men and listen to them and watch them watch us.  I can tell you that from the comments that I endure everyday as staff that they can be twice as bad to female patients.

I’m right back where I started.  I have to complain about a person higher than myself – which means that I will risk my job and my position.  I’m sure that is not really true – but YOU tell that to my PTSD.

It is not supposed to be this way.  All I need is a simple note.  If my “doctor” at the VA is triggering my PTSD all over a very simple signature on a very simple note…then what hope does that give me for anything else.

Joan

An A for the effort

July 20, 2010

The duties of my VSO position are keeping me crazy busy this week.  Thanks to a little help from friends, we have been able to share a booth out at the County Fairgrounds with Veterans Benefits.  It is a great place to chat with people.  Even though I would love to sign every veteran up for my VSO – the most important  mission is helping veterans get their benefits.  We are very lucky…we have a terrific woman as our County Vet-Rep. 

So, I am chatting with a guy last night that is a friend, a fellow VSO member and very active with County VA affairs.  He knows that I am an MST survivors – he doesn’t know the details.  He was talking to me about how impressed he was with a local tour to watch some military personnel doing their jobs.  He even said that it was obvious that the women were doing the same job as the men…they were all soldiers.

“My one concern for our female soldier is that they could get killed or captured and RAPED by the enemy.”

He stopped right there…like he himself couldn’t believe what had just come out of his mouth.  I watched the red creep up his cheeks and he stammered for his next sentence.

Women in the military don’t worry about the enemy outside the perimeter…we worry about the guy siting next to us at chow!

That is why we are called – Enemy in the Wire.  Why worry about the enemy raping you when you have a boss that calls you into his office to hump your leg for 6 months.  Don’t worry about getting killed by the enemy when you have your platoon sergeant beating you with a stick. 

Rape, Torture, Death…bring it on…as long it is truly the “enemy” doing it and not your brothers in arms.

You know what, though.  I give this guy an A for the effort.  He is learning.  He is trying to understand.  He is open to getting it – not just turning a blind eye to us.

Joan

Unacceptable Situations

July 6, 2010

I have some moderate microscopic  blood in my urine and the VA MD isn’t sure why.  As a precaution, she is sending me for a CT scan and then a cystoscopy.  They are going to run a camera through my urethra and into my bladder.  NOT comfortable!  (no, Brigid…it is  most likely not cancer and it is not a tumor.  🙂  there are tons of other things it could be…love you and please don’t worry!)

So, I called the clinic this morning to make sure my appointment was with a female urologist.  “We don’t have a woman…but there will be a female in the room with you.”

Not acceptable!  Bottom line!  There is no way this side of hell that a man I do not know is going to be putting me through PAIN in that region and you expect me to stay on the table.  It is not going to happen.  They had better find a way to get me a female and they had better find a way to keep me on the table.  I don’t usually make demands but this procedure is NOT going to happen unless they make some accomodations!

I had to tolerate a male for comp and pen psyche.  Then, they gave me a female for medical comp and pen only to switch me without notice to a male.  Now they THINK I am going to lie still while some man that I have never met goes digging around my genitals in a painful procedure?  NO freakin way!

I have calls in to all the necessary people.  I will see what they can get done and update this as we go along.  We have a huge University Hospital right next door to the VA…I guess they can figure something out!

I guess this is my opportunity to fight the system.  (maybe that is the only reason there is blood in my urine – I don’t believe in coincidence!)  I will not go down without a fight and if I can’t change it here then what is the freaking point?!  I am on a special committee at my VA that deals with sensitive practices for ALL survivors of MST and this is part of our job.  It is part of our job to make sure that accomodations are made.  No one on the committee knows for sure that I am a survivor…except for the leader.  Of course, after this post many of them probably will figure it out because they have all received “online resources to better understanding” from the leader.  (with not only my permission but with my encouragement.  Part of the reason for the anonmity.)

If I have to scream to the committee, the patient reps, the urology dept, the director’s office, the women’s representatives, my legislative reps…the whole world…then I will make sure that this is NEVER a problem again.

Do not doubt that I will give every last bit that I have to see this change.

Joan

UPDATE:  1510

I asked the Urology nurse to call me back in the afternoon because mornings are busy at my job.  I got a call promptly at 1245.  I had to call her back because I was still very busy.  I called her back and she picked the phone right up – two rings!  I explained the situation the best that I could. 

“No problem!  We can send you to the University for a female.”

“What about sedation?  This procedure isn’t comfortable.”

“We can do sedation if you want.  Put you in a little twilight sleep.”

“Really!?  Because if I get to sleep through it…I can be okay with a male.”

“Sure – sedation it is!  Sure you don’t want to go to the U?”

“No – I don’t trust the U…I would rather have VA.”

Thank goodness for Linda.  We are doing it at the VA, same appt date and time – no sense waiting around stressing – and we are just going to have a female chaperone and a little sleep.  ( I have great luck with Twilight sedation!)

Best of all – we all learned some things!  (other people that I called on out of my concerns)  Urology is great to work with and is very, very sensitive to needs of patients! 

Joan

Cold Hard Loses

May 21, 2010

For those who have read this blog, you know that I am a lab tech at a VA Outpatient Clinic.  It is not totally uncommon for me to have patients that I draw every couple of weeks or every month.  I come to know them and I come to know their families.

Last month one of my regulars came in and told me that his cancer was back.  Today his wife came in for her blood draw and I asked her, “how’s your husband?”  Tears came in her eyes and she shook her head…”he’s gone.”

It happens so fast!  They are wonderful, sweet, kind people.  I think of them more as “friends” than my patients.  People tell me, “don’t get attached!”  How can I not get attached?  These are my brothers and sisters…fellow vets just trying to cope with their lives and move forward.

I was managing to be okay until she said, “He loved you so much and he loved the way you took care of him.”  Then, I kind of lost it.  We hugged, I cried a bit, then when she was done…I took the next patient in line.

I know that for many of you the VA has been a nightmare experience.  I get the emails.  I am heartily sorry because I really do try to do my best for you each and every day!

However, please know, that there are people that think you are more than a number.  Sometimes, our hearts break and we are left standing at our desk or in our labs with a line of people waiting for their turns. 

I wished I could have spent more time.  But I couldn’t.  To the next man in line – I probably wasn’t my happy talkitive self. 

God be with you, Friend and with your family.  You never were and you will never be just a number to your little VA lab tech.  Thank you for letting me be a part of your life.

Joan

National Day of Prayer

May 6, 2010

Today is the National Day of Prayer…in honor of that I post the following…

Dear Lord Jesus,

We come before you now asking for your mercy and grace for our nation.  Protect and keep our service members in your hands. 

Be with those who have suffered and continue to suffer from the PTSD and the physical problems that come with being survivors of Military Sexual Trauma.  Be with the ROTC cadets who have no resources of support.  Place your hand upon each one of us and grant us peace.  Be with the leaders of our military and of our nation.  Give each of them the courage to confront injustice.

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Blessings,

Joan

It Was All My Fault

March 30, 2010

When I was 19, I had my Annual Training in Camp Dodge. We were going throw the final 3 weeks of training to learn how to operate the newest radio equipment, which we were the first unit in Iowa to get. I had been in classes for the last year, and now we were finally going to be training on the actual real equipment, instead of just learning about if from shared manuals.

The new MSE equipment came from Fort Hood, Texas, and had been brought to Iowa in these new military vehicles, called a HUMVEE. We had never seen such strange looking vehicles before. As it turned out, it was those HUMVEEs that were going to hold all of our equipment from now on, so we had to learn how to drive the darn things, something I was not looking forward to.

It was on the 4th or 5th day of training, when I woke up with a sore on my ankle. I saw that I had a bite mark, but I didn’t think nothing much of it at the time. But then throughout the day, it became much harder to walk, and I started feeling weird. After supper that night, I told some of my friends about it. They convinced me to take off my boot, and my whole left leg was swollen, and you couldn’t see my ankle. A friend got one of the drivers to take me to the VA. I threw up out the window on the way to Des Moines.

When we got to the VA, and all the Indian doctor wanted to do was grab my breasts, and squeeze and rub them repeatedly. I told him that the pain was in my foot, not my boobs, and maybe he should get his hands off my chest, and look at my leg. He looked at my leg then, and decided that I had been bitten by some kind of spider. He thought it was a brown recluse, which was really bad, since their bites cause the tissue to rot. He said I was in shock, and had the creature bit me any higher up on my leg, I would have already been dead.

I was given codine and crutches, and instructed to stay off my feet for an unknown amount of time. That meant I couldn’t go to training. The only time for the next two weeks I was allowed out of bed was to go to chow or to the bathroom. My whole left leg continued to swell for days, and soon my knee was the size of a softball. George discovered what it was that bit me. It seems the trucks from Texas had some stow-aways. They found numerous black widows in the wheel wells, and since it was a hot summer, they were able to survive in Iowa. At least it wasn’t a brown recluse.

 So, because I was bitten in my sleep in the middle of the night by a black widow, my unit cadre decided that it was my fault. They said it was my fault that I got bit in the ankle, in my barracks in my sleep. They said I should have worn socks to bed. I pointed out that it was JULY, hello, and hot as hell. They said it wouldn’t have happened if I had protected my ankle, so it was my fault. I pointed out that no one knew about the black widows until after I was bit, and the doctor had stated I would have died if I had been bitten higher up. They didn’t care. They kept telling me that they were going to take my rank, and I just got madder. I asked the if they thought I sat awake in my bed that night, and saw the black widow crawling on my bed, and said, “Bite me bitch!” just so I could get out of training? I was facing an article 14. Seriously. They wanted to make an example of me.

They were mad because I was missing the training; I finally was released from the crutches, and allowed to return to training after almost 10 days. Then they got even madder because I picked up everything that I missed during my first day back. That made the GTE instructors mad as well, because they were paid millions to train us, and if I could learn everything they had to teach us in less then a week, then the military would realize that we didn’t need 3 weeks of training after all

So, my commander was pissed at me, the instructors were pissed at me, and they all decided that I would not be allowed to qualify on the new equipment. This caused many of my fellow classmates to get mad, and try to rally on my behalf, which only pissed my commander off even more. But then the woman who slept in the bed beside me got bitten as well. She was a sergeant, and was higher ranking. If they were going to press charges against me, then they had to on her, and they didn’t want to do that. So they finally dropped that part of the harassment.

Then they started rumors that I was in the recreation building getting drunk, under age, when I was restricted to bed. They said they were going to press charges on me for that as well. But everyone knew I was in my bed, but they had certain people they convinced to lie and say I was there. I started getting more and more defiant, and mouthy. I went on a hunger strike for a few days. That only fueled their fire. But I had too many people to back me up, so they had to drop that as well, which they never forgave me for.

So, the last night of AT, I was sick and tired of hearing how I was going to be disciplined for rumors of me drinking in the Rec Hall. So, I figured if I was going to get in serious trouble for something I didn’t do, I was going to make darn sure I actually did it. I got falling down, silly drunk. I wound up getting the Article 14 after all, but my commander told me that he knew I hadn’t drank up until the last night of AT. I asked then why was the Chaplin visiting me, and telling me I was in trouble, and so was everyone else. He said he didn’t know.

I thought I had the last laugh. He had to shred my Article 14 before the ink dried on it, because I transferred to a different unit. The unit I was transferred into became my punishment for the next 10 plus years.

Brigid

What are they thinking???

March 23, 2010

Well, Friends…that new healthcare bill will be signed into law today.  What are they thinking?  Do they not realize that 2700+ pages of new legislation is not good for our nation?

What about the promises they made to those who truly served their country in the military?  How can we as a people allow these people to take control of the healthcare of ALL Americans when they can’t even take care of Veterans?

I’m very lucky, I happen to have a very good VA Hospital.  I also work for the VA as a low level lab tech.  I have no power or control beyond taking care of each veteran in my lab chair.  I just want to point that out before anyone thinks I could answer questions about benefits or the system.  I can tell you how to make great blood smears for slide readings 😉  If I had any power at all I promise you I would not have seen a male psychiatrist for my Comp and Pen…I promise you that.  No matter how nice he was, he was still a man.

I am in the waiting process again.  After I do medical comp and pen I have to wait 6 – 8 weeks to hear from the VBA.  That is if the VBA does their job.  Those are the people I don’t trust.  They will make the final decision.  They will decide if I am telling the truth or just trying to milk the system.  I wonder how many of them have never spent a day in “boots?”  How many of them have no idea what military life is like or how these things happen? 

I’m proud of what I do for a job.  I like to tell my patients that “I work for the best people in the world…the US Veteran.”  I don’t work for my boss, my friends or my leadership in this place.  I work for Veterans.  Their sacrifices gave me a job.  Their taxes pay my salary.  I just wish that more people in the “Business of Veterans” saw their job in that light.

It sounds noble of me…but it’s really not.  I do this because I have to make sense of things.  One of the things I loved about being an NCO was taking care of soldiers.  They took that away from me.  Truthfully, I hate them for it with every part of me.  I tried working in the civilian world and I was miserable!  I figured that the best way for me to stay someplace that feels like “home” was to work in the VA with the Veterans.  In the end it is kind of selfish of me but I do my best to take care of MY ‘boys and girls.’  They just don’t know that they are taking care of me, too.

Will there ever come a time in this country when we Veterans are more than just a footnote in a political speech?  You politicians, you stand up and say that we “love our Veterans.”  If you really “love” us then you will care for us.  You will HEAR us and not just give us lip service.  At a political event with a Congressman I was holding a sign that said, “Keep the promise, fully fund the VA first.”  He looked right at my sign and said, “I agree with you.  Yes, you are right.”  Then he stood on that stage and told us why he was voting YES on this new healthcare bill.  He listened to what my sign said, he just didn’t HEAR any of it.  If I had been HEARD he would have voted NO and said…”hey, let’s see what is up with fully funding the VA.”

Stop patronizing those of us who have truly “given our whole lives” in service to their country.  Please learn that a Servicemember doesn’t have to suffer a “biological death” in order to have lost their life for this country.  Keep your promise…put the Veterans first!

Joan