As much as I would like to tell people that my head is feeling all better and pretty this morning, that would be a lie. Until this weather front is long gone, I will be pretty bad, so I thought that since I still have functional use of both of my eyes, I would write while I could and see if I can say a few things this morning to make the world a different place.
My dad was a vet. Beret in Vietnam. The manliest of the manly men. I will not regale you with stories about why I know obscure Vietnamese words for the worst parts of the human condition; I will instead tell you about what happened to my father the day before he died in fact.
My father died in late February on ’98, so twenty plus years ago now. He had Colo-Rectal cancer that hit him hard and, in a way, blessedly fast. He was diagnosed early July the summer before, so it was very aggressive. Multiple surgeries, radiation and chemo rounds, the whole nine yards.
The doctor called the house a few weeks before and, since my father was already in the care of a hospice nurse, he asked if there was anything he could do to make the time easier for us. There were a lot of tears and words of consolation and then my mother asked a question, a simple one I thought.
“Who do I call at the VA to make arrangements for things?” See, the entire time my father was sick he would keep saying, almost as a mantra, “Don’t worry Lynn, the VA will bury me if nothing else.” We didn’t expect Arlington and twenty-one guns at sunset, but maybe a folded flag?
“I’m sorry Mrs. Nealon since Jim wasn’t in a Veterans Affairs facility they won’t do anything at all for you.” My mother, stunned, thanked him kindly and hung up the phone and her and I made frantic phone calls until things were worked out via loans from about twenty different places.
Now, I will never know if it was Agent Orange that gave my father cancer that killed him, but that isn’t important. He gave them twenty plus years of his life. Twenty. Years. He was shot, stabbed, literally impaled, and had PTSD in a time where you were told to suck it up and deal, and they wouldn’t even give my mother a flag.
I am well aware this could be a unique situation to us, but it raises a question that needs to be asked every day. When it has come to me, the crystal loving, Goddess worshiping, hippie pacifist liberal to ask that question, we have fallen far, far away from where we should be.
These people, these beautiful people make it possible for me to sit here and whine about my headache all day. They beat Hitler and Mussolini, the caught Saddam and Osama, they went to war in places that they had never heard of because the powers that be told them that a clear and present danger to America was there and they went, and they have been dying for as long as there has been a country, and before.
In a report published in September of 2018, the Veterans Affairs Department found that from between 2008 to 2016, there were 6,000 veteran suicides a year. A FUCKING YEAR. Think about it. Be ashamed about that. That is almost 50,000 fucking people.
I can’t wrap my head around why we would be so horrible to the very people who make it possible for us to do absolutely anything in the first place. I will not try a cutesy metaphor or a stupid comparison; I will leave you with that number to think about over the course of your day. I will let you do the extrapolation of that number to your year of birth and wait when your breath catches in your throat, and you see that there is something so very broken in this country.
However, we will talk more about the broken tomorrow, I think.
I’m going to go call some Vet friends of mine, maybe you should too.
© 2019, TheJameyBear. All rights reserved.