Almost every day you will hear or read a story about how a community thanked their Vietnam Veterans. There are celebrations including dinners, parades and community gatherings that honor the men and women who fought in Vietnam and returned home. Many of the occasions occur in Veterans homes and or hospitals. They also pause to remember those who did not come home. Dead or alive, these veterans are honored and thanked for their service. Many of the ceremonies are making the news since they occur during the 50th anniversary year of the Vietnam war.
We hear about how it is an honor to meet the men and women who served with distinction and pride; who served in an unpopular war and yet still performed their duty. The community is showing the respect that was sadly missing when the veterans returned home over fifty years ago. Quietly and without fanfare, the Veterans accept the good wishes and fervently hope and pray that today’s service men and women are treated a hell of a lot better than we were when we came home. Today those men and women, who volunteered to serve, are welcomed home in a manner befitting their service. For that acknowledgment we are thankful.
Then there is the quiet. The quiet that comes after a celebration. The time when we pause and reflect and then go about our daily life as best as possible. Those of us who served are extremely grateful for the belated acknowledgments and thanks. When we face each new day we are reminded of our time “across the pond”. We accept the challenges of each new day ever mindful of the burden of having survived. That burden includes the ravages of Agent Orange exposure, readjusting to life without all of our limbs, the scars left behind and the invisible wounds of war, PTSD. The quiet becomes for some, a time of desperation and despair that drives them to suicide.
Yes, the dying was easy; it is the living on that is the hardship. We did our duty and we trusted that our Government would do their duty and tend to us as needed. That trust has been tested and at times, broken. The people charged with our care put themselves before us. The facilities we went to seeking help caused more harm than good! Men and women who survived the war died at home because of the apathy of self-serving bureaucrats who dismissed their responsibility. For that apathy and lack of care and concern, we are not thankful!
This is the time to correct the wrongs. There is a newly confirmed Secretary of Veterans Affairs. He did not serve in the military. He did serve as the VA Under Secretary for Health for 18 months, leading the Nation’s largest integrated healthcare system, with over 1,700 sites of care serving nearly nine million Veterans. Hopefully, he is not part of the problem.
Secretary David Shulkin must have the authority, absolute and unconditional to rid this infected bureaucracy of the disease that takes lives instead of saving lives. The current system is beset by challenges, including a backlog of disability claims that has shifted in recent years from initial applications to appeals; a rising suicide rate; overuse of opiates; and a shortage of doctors and nurses.
The selection of this Secretary has been a major challenge to the Presidency. The critical first step has been achieved, do not let the progress cease! Mr. President, remain committed to your words”
“His sole mandate will be to serve our veterans and restore the level of care we owe to our brave men and women in the military,” Trump said. “Sadly our great veterans have not gotten the level of care they deserve, but Dr. Shulkin has the experience and the vision to ensure we will meet the health-care needs of every veteran.”