This is my first post on DocuDharma. It is cross posted from a DailyKos essay (of Fri Nov 09, 2007 at 10:51:54 AM EST)
http://www.dailykos.com/story/… I have about 30 diaries on DailyKos. I will not be cross posting them all (that’s good for you). Only the ones I think were my better ones and/or got good response. I want to thank my friend “boadicaea” for turning me on to this site and also her assistance in the last few weeks with helping me with my disjointed, repetitive and lengthy wtiting style. I have read a lot on Docudharma in the last 24hrs and really like what I read and the atmosphere of the community. Expect to see me here daily. I look forward to the day when Docudharma has the membership of sites like DailyKos (150K members), and I know it will, and I can then be an “old timer” with an ID under 1100-:)
I went to the Veterans Administration hospital yesterday for a routine appointment that was to be just a quick check-in with my doc & off I go.
The main point of this diary is about our military personnel. The unfair situations they are faced with & the amazing commitment of many. There are other issues within my blabbering. It wouldn’t be a TominMaine diary without some rambling & personal items wrapped around the issues.
I have an appointment at the VA about once a month between my many doctors. I had to see my doctor who monitors my TBI, Traumatic Brain Injury from an auto accident in 1999.
Without VA health & prescription (22 meds) coverage, my SSDI & my wife’s meager wages (she has no health insurance), we might be living in the attic of my mom’s house. With myself, my wife, 2 dogs & a cat, it would be cramped in that drafty, smelly attic in an old New England house built over 100 years ago. The attic would be better than the cellar with the stone walls & it looks like something out of “Silence of the Lambs”. I also know my mom would push me from mild bi-polar disorder to complete insanity.
I am luckier than the 47 million uninsured who could face such horrors and worse.
None of my many medical issues are life threatening. They are an inconvenience to living “normal”, I am always in at least some pain, they are often frustrating and a pain in the ass, but we all have our cross to bare and I don’t want to trade mine for anyone else’s. I know how to live with mine and remain happy and content.
Because of the several benefits I am entitled to, I am much luckier than many millions in our country. I take some time each day to give thought to this fact. Usually during my early morning regiment. Today though, I spent my morning time thinking more about my “simple” visit yesterday to the VA hospital. BTW, my pets are part of my whole morning routine also.
Every morning when I get up, I am greeted by my two dogs and my cat. They rise with great anticipation of going out and then getting fed. They all three shadow me around as I go through my morning rituals of about 15 minutes. They know this proceeds their pleasures. When done with my routine, I pour my first cup of coffee, and to my pet’s delight, we head out the door. They do what animals do first thing in the morning and then they wander through the woods a little. While they do that, I view the early morning here in the deep woods of Maine. The quiet and serenity allows me some time to think about things.
My cat goes out with us each morning for this daily routine. She thinks she is a dog. When she is out alone, she always comes home when I call her. In the afternoon, if I’m feeling o.k., we take a walk in and around the woods. She always comes on these walks with the dogs and I. When she is out alone and wants to come in, she paws the screen door so it sounds like someone knocking softly. If I don’t hear it, the dogs will start barking and let me know. Like me, she is not “normal” and kinda unique. Some photos for your viewing pleasure.
ALL THREE ON A WALK.
PENZA (named after a city in Russia)
Reflecting on my trip to the VA yesterday, I thought of the people I spoke to, the things I learned and the emotions I felt. I thought maybe this would make a decent diary. You can decide that.
While I waited to see my doctor, I got a flu shot. The guy giving shots was a volunteer. He is also an active duty Major in the Army. Since I had a little time to wait for my doctor, we talked about numerous military and political issues.
He told me about an Army General that he knew who was an expert on the middle east. When Bush was planning the attack on Iraq, this General was one of the few with the guts to adamantly and quite vocally disagree with attacking Iraq. He gave Bush a kinda “in your face” explanation of the realities of attacking Iraq. He predicted exactly what is happening today. He said the only way this wouldn’t happen was if we dedicated 600,000 troops to Iraq and we would probably have to keep most of them there for many years. That General “retired” a month later. They are not all Petraus. Rest assured, before he said his piece, that General knew what the results would be. He still said it with all that was on the line for he and his family. That’s a big set of balls with a dose of courage and some honor thrown in. That General was a true commander and patriot who cared about his troops. God, I wish I was there for that.
The Major and I got around to talking about a personal issue that is important to me and I think all Americans should know about it. We talked about our soldiers in Iraq/Afghanistan returning with TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury).
Since I have TBI and so do many soldiers returning from Iraq/Afghanistan (65%), I have researched this problem extensively. Another major side effect that has been caused by Bushco’s debacle.
I was very glad to hear from the Major about a new VA program that is to be SOP (standard operating procedure) at all VA hospitals. Every soldier returning from Iraq and Afghanistan is put through a battery of tests for PTSD, mental health issues and TBI to see if they need help or are fit to return to the front line. About fucking time this was done.
I thought the Major’s information was excellent news. During my research, I read that the military was working on this testing but I had not heard that it had been implemented.
It was a little ironic to have this conversation yesterday with the Major. After many hours of research, on the morning of 11/02 (1 wk ago today) I posted a diary about TBI and our returning Vets (I will cross post to Docudharma). This is an issue our nation should be concerned about. The impact on our military capabilities could be devastating. TBI has become known as the “signature injury” of this war. The term TBI will soon be as well known as the term PTSD. Some estimate that there could be as many as 65% of Vets returning from Iraq/Afghanistan suffer from TBI.
Besides the good news of the testing, there was one other thing the Major told me that had a strong emotional impact on me.
The word is getting around amongst the troops about possible ways to “fool” the testing.
NO, not to fake that they have these illness’, just the opposite. Some soldiers who may have PTSD, mental health issues or TBI, want to “pass” the test and be allowed to return to the front. The military is now aware of this and is fortunately making adjustments to make it more difficult for them to “fool” the testing.
I know, this seems pretty fucking crazy to “civilians”. I think maybe you would have to have served to truly understand this irrational behavior.
The majority of these young men and women don’t speak much about the politics of the war. Few talk much about if it is right or wrong. Many believe these things are none of their business.
“mine is not to reason why, mine is but to do and die.” Alfred, Lord Tennyson
This is in spite of the fact that they all know exactly what is being said at home in the USA about the war and the government.
Each of these men and women stood in front of an American flag and a military officer told them to raise their right hand and repeat after me: “I, (NAME), do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God”.
The vast majority in the military don’t take this oath lightly. It becomes a part of them even if many can not repeat it word for word. Their commitment to the military is a matter of honor, pride and a personal promise to themselves, their nation and their God. Mostly, there is a deep sense of loyalty to their fellow soldiers that impacts much of their bahavior.
If only 50% of our politicians took their oath of office as seriously and deeply as the majority of these brave men and women do, then our country wouldn’t be in the fucking mess it is in right now. Then again, most politicians today don’t have the morals, ethics, courage, personal pride or loyalty to their fellow workers or constituents of most in the military.
As stated, even more compelling for those who want to “fool” the test, is a sense of responsibility to those “friends” they left at the battlefront. A felling of guilt for leaving their comrades in arms. A desire to return to help protect those who helped to protect them.
These men and women make huge sacrifices for you and I and our country. When, where or why there is a war is irrelevant when we are talking about the individuals who serve. When talking about those who defend our country against real enemies or some moron politicians perceived, imaginary, manufactured or fictitious enemies, our military men and women must do their duty. Regardless of the stupidity and futility of Iraq, these individuals deserve our respect and appreciation. They need us to speak out for them. Most absolutely will not say negative things about the futility of their mission or the ineptitude of Bushco while they are on active duty. It just is not done by most regardless of what they think, it is blasphemy. Most of them know the realities of this insanity. It is also punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) which also applies to most for two years after “actice duty” ends and they are “on reserve”. They need us to fight for the benefits they earned and deserve. They need us to fight for the quality medical care they deserve when they come home. They need us to do everything we can to end this war. Most importantly, we must insist, demand and ensure the politicians we elect support all these things our soldiers deserve.
Because I live in Maine with such a small population (1.2million), I don’t see a lot of Iraq/Afghanistan Vets when I go to the VA. I probably average seeing one each time I go to the VA hospital. I always try to speak with each one I see.
I told you about the Major who was just giving me a flu shot yesterday. We ended up having a 20 minute wide ranging conversation that educated me and affected me. By coincidence we discussed an issue very important to me that I posted a diary about that very issue just a week before. This was not something I expected when going to a simple appointment at the VA yesterday.