It has taken me three-years to obtain a medical appointment with the VA clinic in my hometown of Sault Ste. Marie (Soo) Michigan. Had it not been for the intervention of Michigan’s U.S. Congressman Dan Benishek’s staff, one more time I would have been told, “The VA Soo clinic is too busy to see you!”
I return to the Soo three to five months each year. The VA would have the public believe any veteran can access any location on a moment’s notice and the facts are, if you are not persistent and willing to pursue your earned benefits, you would not be able to achieve any success. Every day the VA turns veterans away.
The success: with Doctor Benishek’s assistance I finally got beyond the receptionist. There I met an energetic nurse with enthusiasm for helping our ex-military. The examination room appeared state-of-the-art with medical Tele-video conferencing with an off-site doctor.
Personally I found the video conferencing examination with this VA doctor more thorough than the treatment I received at the Indianapolis Roudebush Medical Center. In past years, not once has the in room VA medical doctor touched any part of my body. They enter the examination room, sit in the corner, open up their computer and ask questions.
As the Tele-video examination continued the doctor asked a series of questions and based on my reply he suggested that I agree to an examination for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I informed the doctor the VA had done away with PTSD. As I am the only sane person from the combat unit I served, to retain my diagnoses of saneness, I agreed to take their examination.
The Failure: Veterans in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula are referred to the VA’s Iron Mountain (IM) location. A caller from IM wanted to know if I would undergo treatment. I responded, “Don’t you FIRST have to diagnose me?” Therein lies the problem; veterans diagnosed with PTSD might file a compensation and pension claim. The VA’s mental health staff desire to be gainfully employed while providing an illusion of treating veterans. But the VA’s mental health staff is prohibited from diagnosing PTSD.
Washington has not allocated sufficient dollars to both treat our veterans and repay the bribe money (political contributions) owed to defense contractors. If you are a reader of my articles, I will repeat myself. Why would you encourage a young person to enlist in our military? For fifty years the Vietnam veteran has fought Washington’s elected and the VA. Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are committing suicide at the rate of 8030 each year.
The system of engineered conflicts creates small contained global hostility that employs defense contractors on both sides of the engagement. When the money runs out our side abandons U.S. combatants. If we are not prepared to help these young veterans reenter what noncombatants know as ‘Normal’ then we should not be in the business of staging small wars.
Note: Andrew Robbins was a member of the 3rd/187th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, (1 December1967 through 3 October 1969; Vietnam). As a civilian, he worked for the Department of Defense at non-descript locations. He is a voice for the underserved and writers for CSMS Magazine.