I expected shit. And the Atlanta VA Center delivered, by the truckload.
I’m not going to pretend that I’m a war hero, no. The most dangerous thing I ever faced was flying in a 30-year-old aircraft. But I have a handful of issues. Including my hearing as a result of said 30-year-old aircraft.
So when the VA scheduled for me for my initial appointment, I knew that I would probably have to wait in some lines and deal with a little bit of bureaucratic BS. It’s worth noting this only took eight months after my retirement.
So the facility looked nice, a newer building. Better than I’ve seen others deal with. Already I notice the parking for the employees is closer than parking for the clients. That’s a problem. As I walked around the facility I saw multiple veterans with leg injuries or missing limbs altogether. A one-way street is half blocked with employees disregarding parking regulations and simply blocking a thoroughfare.
In order to enter the building, I had to go through a metal detector. Not quite airport level security but disconcerting. Unfortunately, I actually understand why they need to do this. It’s sad times we live in.
After waiting 45 minutes in an initial waiting area, I was told I was in the wrong place. I was then directed to another building. Now, I’m a relatively young, 44-year-old able-bodied, healthy man with a Masters Degree. In fact, I have three college degrees. I’m a trained and season aviator. I’m not confused. I don’t suffer from any mental disabilities and I’m not stupid. If I found it difficult to know where I was supposed to be, what about the 25-year-old kid with a legitimate case of PTSD? Or the 70-year-old Vietnam war veteran?
Locations in the medical center are navigated via means of your VA identification card. Guess what I don’t have because it’s my first fucking visit? Having a system that would read retired identification cards is just too complex. Or more than likely some contractor didn’t get paid fat cash to build it.
So I wait in another line. For another 30 minutes. All to be told by snotty 25-year-old that I’m late.
“We need to reschedule you. How about Saturday?”
“Sure. What date is that?” As I entered it into my phone. I am still being polite.
To borrow an old military phrase; YGBFSM. (You Got to Be Fucking Shitting Me.)
“The date?” I’m now annoyed. And clearly holding a phone in my hand.
“Oh, I’m going to give you a printout.”
Thanks. Had it not been for causing a scene in front of these damn fine Americans, I would have slapped him.
Again, I’m annoyed. But I’m okay. I’ve got a home, I’ve got food and I got financial means. This is the system that is designed to help our Veterans. God honest heroes have put their lives and in several cases their sanity because the government asked them to. This is the system we have built to help them.
So now I’m depressed and I also feel like a wuss, because I’m whining about my treatment at the hands of these incompetent morons who hold my medical future in their hands when I’m am actually doing pretty good. I feel like a wuss because I was there and I looked at real heroes; people missing limbs and some probably missing parts of their mind. They can’t even help me, how are they going to help them?
We are gearing up for an election year, so certainly the idea of who’s helped our veterans better will come up during the election debates.
The answer is none of them. Which shifts the question to who will do the most to help them.
And the answer is the same.
As for me? I’m going to borrow another military phrase. Right now I’m going to a bar and I’m going to self-medicate.
God help us all.