Now that the Veterans Day festivities are over, may I ask you to pause and consider what I’m about to tell you? Though Veterans Day is a nice gesture and is truly earned, it is but one small token in a sea of unmet veteran needs. There are many terribly ignored veterans’ needs for which our lawmakers in Washington D.C. have failed to help.

Only within the last several years has the Veterans Administration acknowledge that there is a strange series of unexplainable diseases and symptoms for which possibly hundreds of thousands of veterans, who served on the ground in the Middle East, have been affected. “How many”, you say? Yes, by their own commissioned studies, the military now acknowledges that one-fourth of the soldiers on the ground during the 1991 Gulf War suffer diseases ranging from Fibromyalgia to double the chance of getting Lou Gerrigs Disease.

Veterans Day is not only a day to honor the sacrifices and services of patriots who have served in the military (less than 1% of Americans); it is also a time when some civilians feel patriotic about recognizing the troops. But, what about the needs and often unexplainable health problems of our veterans? Is it okay to say “we love you” but not compensate these forgotten disabled men and women? Can a civilian truly feel pride when those they applaud go without the finances and medical care needed to maintain a decent life?

The press has lain off this subject. It may have been mentioned somewhere buried in the middle of a paper or news broadcast, but the press has failed to stand on the necks of our lawmakers to fix this wrong. How can I say such a thing? I personally have asked our local paper and TV news stations to start covering this.

This shouldn’t be so. We should be ashamed that we don’t meet the needs of our soldiers that acquired diseases from their war service (or any type of military service for that matter).  We gulf war vets have diseases such as Fibromyalgia, unexplainable arthritis pain throughout our bodies, unexplainable neurological pain, memory loss, digestive diseases, and on and on. We were exposed to breathing in air that was so thick with oil smoke that you could stare at the sun without blinking. Our own exploding shells are hardened with depleted uranium. There are bacteria that are part of the desert. There are differing reports that chemical warfare may have been used. And, we were asked to take a NON-FDA approved pill to help us deal with nerve gas attacks.

What should YOU do? Before you wave a flag at a parade, type out a letter or email to both your senators and your congressman with a stern objection. Fund the V.A. so we veterans don’t have to wait years and years and years to have our medical conditions boarded just to have our PRESUMPTIVE diseases denied the first round and (maybe) passed the second round during lengthy appeals.  Since we do not understand the pathology of some of these symptoms, the Veterans Administration is directed to approve us for V.A. assistance since the disease is presumptive in gulf war vets. The science says approximately one fourth of veterans in the war zone have these diseases (Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses, pub. November 2008). However, the V.A. doesn’t follow this direction. They seem to worry more about saving money or wearing us down so we quit.

Call and Write. It is a national disgrace that many of our soldiers cannot work due to SEVERE chronic pain and we don’t do anything to help. This causes severe depression. And, the number one killer of soldiers is suicide (some estimates are 28 per month on average). My personal experience is it all goes back to the feeling “Americans promised they would take care of us in exchange for voluntary service. Where is their pride now?”

Looking for lawmakers in Washington, D.C.? Find them here: www.senate.gov and www.house.gov The President and First Lady can be found through www.whitehouse.gov.  And, don’t forget to call your news outlets. If you cannot do this for the least of these soldiers, then the patriotism is hollow. Speaking for me personally, the parades have little meaning. I’m pretty sure many other damaged soldiers feel the same.

James retired from 11 years in 5th Special Forces. During the Gulf War, James and his team were placed on the border of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to gather intelligence from the Iraqi buildup. Due to Gulf War Illness symptoms, James doesn’t work but looks for chances to network with other Gulf War vets who can’t get through the V.A. system.

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Published on Nov. 14, 2011

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7 Comments

  1. Tenton Horton December 5, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    I am 87 years old and disabled from wounds received during the Korean War. I have received good treatment from the VA…even for non-service connected illnesses. I no longer use the VA Medical Facilities because I now have my own medical insurances.
    One thing I have observed though, is that the VA is tied down by exact regulations from Congress, and our government. The VA cannot do what it is not “authorized to do”.
    The best way to get the best from our VA System is to join a reputable Veteran’s Organization (American Legion etc..) and participate in the organization’s programs to obtain the assistance that Veterans need. Following the end of WWI, the American Legion Members built up the WW2 benefits that so many of we veteran’s enjoyed. Without their noble actions, VA benefits for veteran’s today would likely still be a pittance….such as was the lot of the Veterans of WW1. Join and support the efforts of our Veteran’s Organizations. It is the very best way in which to make whatever changes are need in the care of all of our War Veterans. Congress listens to our Veteran’s Organizations.
    The Veteran’s Administration’s Doctors, Nurses, Technicians and most of their employees do try hard to give the care that all Veterans deserve. I am very appreciative of their compassionate devotion to duty.

  2. Karen DeCrane November 26, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    While the horrendous track record of the VA medical benefits is, and should be, the topic most mentioned when we talk about transitioning our returning servicemen, there are other sadly neglected areas, too. The VA, governments and private employers need to work together to help with employment transitioning. There is a lot more returning service members can do than just rent a cop security. Wounded vets need jobs and training for those jobs – something even the “non wounded” are unlikely to receive.

  3. Edward November 23, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    The U.S. government expected veterans to be so patriotic that they wouldn’t complain about the neglect. The fact is men like Donald Rumsfeld, the two Bushes and Dick Cheney cater to defense contractors who aren’t really that patriotic. The present commander and Chief has the same people behind him focusing him on other things. They also cater to Wallstreet which isn’t any more patriotic than a visiting group of business people from another country. Have you heard about the neglect at main the VA hospital? Cheney, Bush and the present president are all responsible for the conditions with veterans. Military people need to look beyond their own sense of patriotism and look at the facts. Fact is, the government is allowing wallstreet, oil companies and a small group of men who aren’t for Americans make military decisions and these people really want every cent taken from military affairs like hospitals and even protection for soldiers in live combat. Veterans need to tune in to radio shows like KPFA and KFSO and find out who really is running the military.

  4. Hector Munoz November 21, 2011 at 10:11 am

    I totally agree… I am a wounded warrior from the gulf war and I can tell you if it was not for the current war, the parades and national mood, I would not survive my rehabilitation. Prior to war staring in 2003, I was struggling with the health care system and the bureaucracy at the VA clinics. Nobody care that I had my head blasted by an IED, my back subject to severe blast and my body mangled during the blast. I was just another sorry service man looking for a hand out. My VA application took me well mover 1-1/2 years to process and two submissions. Had it not been for a buddy in the American Legion and my direct access to the VA office in Washington, I would probably be waiting for another evaluation. I fear the war; I thirst for its end but I fear the most the struggle of our warrior after the parades are over…

  5. Gus November 21, 2011 at 8:33 am

    Shameful! I could not agree more, bro.

  6. Charles T. Cauthen November 15, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    Jim, you hit the nail on the head. Our goverment will fail if our leaders keep betraying it’s citizen’s and military personel. Who’s going to protect THEM. Certainly not a military they THEY have betrayed.

  7. hawkish1 November 14, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    I am a female 19 yr. AF now as of this war,oif/oef-am 80% disabled. I have been discriminated against in college,jobs,renting apt,etc.
    What country am I in again…Nazi Germany or Saudi Arabia? All I am asking is for an
    extra 20% from the VA,since having now a lifetime of physical,ptsd issues I suffer everyday,but I will not feel sorry for myself,as my goal is to assist,and help those of all branches realize when they are “self medicating”-just because you cannot see the “injuries” doesn’t mean they don’t exist,this has been the hardest to make them understand. They have to get drunk or worse every night,just to get to sleep,most times,
    it works the opposite way,I know this. We were all used as “ginea pigs” with all these nervous system,respiratiory issues,and its getting passed on to their families,spouses.
    I know as have researched this has been occuring since the first wwI-it seems our “offficials” are following exactly what Adolph Hitler did,and worse,they are covering
    it up,as they make trillions of $$ to make everyone “drug dependant”. Drs ,insurance co’s,
    lobbyists and anyone connected to gov. contracts,or on the hill,all will get their $$ no matter what the cost,as the propaganda they put out,I am so shocked my own (military family-brothers,sisters in arms) do not have a clue or don’t seem much to care,just that they have a “job”. Well,wait til they start speaking Arabic,not willingly…and the worse is yet to come,as I have researched many of the “experiments” with fund sites on them,as I do know a thing or two working also in the private sector regarding contracts,military orders,fund sites,third parties…its already occurring in Houston Tx. as Shariah Law,due
    to Saudi-Aramco,Houston Tx-has a lot of jobs open,but all must follow their “shirah” law.
    This is just one little morsel of info I discovered. All I can do,is support those who have,and are serving,to make their lives a little more enduring, as in “enduring freedom”…

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