I have had it with the VA and their excuses and jargon and attitude just because I am NOT what they refer to as “service-connected.” I have had a nervous breakdown this week and called the stupid veteran’s hot line and got treated like I was stupid. I feel stupid when talking to the VA or any government worker for that matter. I don’t get it. Everyone tells me things such as, “Well, my Dad went to the VA for years and he loved it and he was in Korea or WWII…” And my response is that that’s because they were service-connected and got care when the system wasn’t so overloaded and broken. They don’t want to help us anymore and who could really blame them with all the work that is piled on their plates with the baby boomers retiring, recent wars, and beaurocratic red tape. However, it is time for someone to step up and take responsibility for this mess. Gulf War veterans have been getting the runaround for too long.
I believe I have every right to be service-connected. I did six years on active duty and put up with a lot of bull from people and now we are supposed to come home to this? Do we have to go back to war again? I don’t understand how we can fight it. I have been ran over by a truck with the words U.S. on it. It’s a disaster and I am not equipped to deal with it and that’s the way they want it. African-Americans often get it before I do because they know hard times and they get what’s going on. I am not that smart sometimes. It doesn’t help that I have to take 10 pills just to get out of bed. They love those pills! Here, take this – this will solve that problem. I just got done putting my pills in the organizer and it took me two hours. I felt like chucking them all at the wall or breaking something. I have had it.
I have been told not to write such long direct messages through the healthyvet website by my primary and I said, “Well, I am a writer.” And he goes, “Oh, that explains a lot.” I should write a letter stating I have had enough of your crap and I demand better treatment. I have served my country honorably, I am a patriot, and just because I am not service-connected on paper doesn’t mean that I didn’t do my time in War. We are cast aside as problem children because they don’t know what to tell us when the Department of Defense will not admit their wrong doing in the war. They gave us shots we didn’t know were and pills to combat the dehydration, they exposed us to chemicals and uranium and pesticides and more and then they say, “Oops, sorry, don’t know what to tell ya!” That’s the American way now.
Well, I think it is time to put an end to all the foolishness and if you haven’t got an attorney on speed dial you should because the medical negligence and the rampant misconduct by the so-called health care is inexcusable. We need to try and put our sick heads together and come up with a solution – not a band-aid. Why can’t veterans have a say so in who is our Secretary of the Veteran’s Affairs? Why can’t we vote on that? I would pick some guy who was in Vietnam and has common sense and no money. We are ruined by rich pricks who think they know what we go through. How could they? They pick a guy who used to run a pharmaceutical company? That’s a joke.
I think they should just shut the doors down of the VA and give us all Blue Cross or something because we have been stepped on since 1991. It’s time we got our lives back on track and get the care we deserve and be able to move on with our lives. And no more stinking acronyms, labels, and medications that we don’t need. If you want to take our opiates away then teach us how to live without them. Teach us what we are supposed to do in the middle of night when we are pulling our hair out because we are in so much pain that we just want to scream! Teach us how to talk to rude employees of the VA or fire them like a normal job. Teach us how it is we are supposed to cope with the monster that tells us it’s not our fault you are like that. We deserve better. We earned it with our lives.
That’s my opinion. I want to know yours. Write to me please and tell me what you are going through. I am not selling anything. I just want to reach out to others so we can build up a network amongst us. Let’s remember our training of paying attention to details and just pull ourselves out of the muck and get going on fighting back in a constructive way. It makes a lot of sense that they would just let us die rather than take care of us because they are broke. They don’t know how to handle the problem so they give up on use. Well, sorry – I refuse to lie down! I am tough and so are you! Let’s stick together and find out a way to cope and then get the care we need. God bless all of you and good luck to you. I hope you are doing better than I am and that you have some strength in knowing that none of this matters in the end. Believe it.
Well, it has been a rough summer for me. I have finally woken up to the fact that many of my issues were caused by the VA and the war combined. I have had it with doctors, emergency rooms, and all these people that don’t want to do their jobs. They pass you off to someone else or tell you need better insurance when your broke or they tell you to report to mental health. Well, I have decided to stop being a pussy and fight back. I will not be a martyr for the cause. I am basically just hoping like hell that I don’t lose the use of my legs or worse because I am now dragging my right leg, in a wheelchair most of the time, spent the summer in a nursing home, and then my medicaid was taken away because the state said they made a mistake – oops! Nobody told me so that’s just great. Now when I have an emergency I can’t go to an ER because they won’t do anything but tell me to go to my primary an hour away. And on top of that I was shown a pamphlet that the FDA just came out with that said “It’s a myth that opiates are a painkiller.” Now if that is not a contradiction I don’t know what is. If that’s the case then why do they give you morphine, a very highly used opiate, for pain when you have an operation? And if you are dying of Cancer then you can have all you want. Well, I am dying of Gulf War Illness and that doesn’t count. I have to wait to get Cancer and so on so I am done giving up – I have decided to fight back.
Now I have heard of veterans coping with pain with drugs and alcohol which will surely kill you slowly except for marijuana and I want to get a medical card but they want too much money for all of it and I can’t afford it so where do you turn? Well, here’s my answer; if the government is going to give up on us and take us off the pills that they used to give out to me all the time and tell me that’s all they can do then there has to be a plan in place for an alternative medicine solution, surgeries if necessary, and any and all other methods to help veterans suffering from chronic pain. Why can’t we learn from our past mistakes with Vietnam veterans who have been there, done that?
I am a very mellow, polite guy with family values instilled in me and when you push me up against a corner all the sudden I turn into a very angry and pissed guy. I used to tell my kids – don’t poke the bear! I just can’t deal with all the attitudes at the VA or any medical facility today when I have anxiety, depression, PTSD, major issues with my spine and disks, abdomen pain, a damn catheter again, a bad prostate, headaches, diabetes, and the list goes on and on. I started smoking again because of the stress. I had quit for months while in the nursing home, which by the way was happy to keep me there all fat and lazy until my insurance ran out then they kicked me to the curb. It’s all about the almighty dollar these days.
I have an attorney that some of you may be interested in that is kick-ass. Her name is Jan Dils. She and her staff has been fighting for us Gulf War veterans for some time and they do a good job. I have a case going for the gulf related issues and now I finally realized why my leg is dragging and my spine is aching – it’s because the VA in Minneapolis did a failed back surgery that was originally just supposed to be a disk fusion but they decided to go into my spine to relive the stenosis (pressure from the spinal casing) and then when I got out of the hospital in the dead of winter they told me to walk when I complained worse. I then called the neurosurgeon’s office and spoke to some physician’s assistant who said, “Well, you should be in PT – why are you not doing physical therapy?”
I said, “Because I don’t know what you don’t tell me! Hello!”
So then I called my primary back and said they said that you should have scheduled me for PT and he said oh no – that’s their job and again – blame gets shifted to someone else. I am S.O.L. Nobody wants to take responsibility because they know they fucked up. Oh well, let’s just let the guy be a cripple. Besides, one less pain in the ass veteran in the world to deal with. He’s crazy and too much to handle as it is and he cries about wanting better care and he has a claim against us that we do not want to pay so let’s kill him.
Another time I went to the ER in Florida for chest pains and of course they think I’m having a heart attack which I get, but I kept telling them I think it’s just an acid reflux flare-up but they have to rule it out and they hospitalized me to have a stress test. So then when it comes back that it’s negative they assume it must be the acid reflux and tell me to take four Prilosec a day. I did some research recently and that stuff is deadly! Your body is supposed to have a reaction to bad foods with acid and it’s my diet is what I am finding out.
Diet is a good thing to look at friends. I have been doing some research on that, in this do-it-yourself world we live in, and it really plays a big role in our health. You can live a lot longer if you eat the right foods no matter how nasty they may taste and if you’re on a budget there are lots of websites that offer tips. I have a roommate that blends up fruits and vegetables that we get from the pantry or on sale for cheap in a high-powered blender and it’s not bad. I am getting a lot more nutrients and vitamins. I just started it a month ago and I have already lost twenty-five pounds. I am down to 274. I was 300. And the weight I was carrying had a lot to do with my back problems.
I don’t want anyone to be offended by my solutions. My solutions may not be the way to go for you, but I am a very stubborn person and I don’t usually like people telling me how to live, but lately I have been listening more and trying new things. I also have been trying to get right with God and praying and that is not for everyone either, but it works for me, so if you are a believer then try it. I like Joel Osteen a lot and he really has some positive, uplifting messages that can really make you think. I just pray that all of you find help.
I am nowhere near being at peace with anything the government is doing. It just keeps getting worse and worse every year and there is no cure-all, but the opiates were helping to curb my pain. They don’t work very well for long-term use and so many people have ruined it for those of us with chronic pain that I saw it coming. I knew this day would come, but as usual they charge legislation through congress without a plan to counteract the side-effects of withdrawls and then what do we do now? Thanks, Uncle Sam! Somebody asked me yesterday how I originally hurt my back and I remarked, “A safe fell on it.” and the guy looked at me strangely and I said, “And on the side of the safe the letters U.S.A. were stamped on it.” Good luck, my friends. I hope your life is going better than mine! Hang in there and don’t give up. I really came close to just taking a fistful of neurontin last Saturday but then I decided why am I going to let them make me do that? I am not going to be another news snippet and a martyr for the cause. I have to keep plugging away to set a good example for my brothers and sisters who are suffering. I have to keep on writing and I have to try my best to live day by day. That’s just my opinion, but I hope that you find whatever you can that works for you and don’t give up; be aggressive with your primary care team, ask questions, and be firm with them. Don’t let them bully you around anymore. I know your sick and tired of being sick and tired, but we have to fight as much as possible because the damn is about to burst – the health care system is broken. Peace!
Maybe it’s me, but I don’t think VA hospitals should be called hospitals because they are not like any other hospital I have ever been in. About ninety percent are great people but there are some employees that are just a mystery to me how it is they ever got into the medical field. They obviously don’t like people or taking care of them and they are very angry. There are doctors who refuse now to give people with chronic pain like myself anything that helps with the pain claiming that too many veterans have committed suicide. However, I fail to see how that can happen if they are the ones dispensing the medicine. It’s a crazy environment at times.
The first VA hospital I was in was in Minneapolis. I had my back surgery there. They did fusion on my back and then they went into my spine, without permission, and they said they enlarged the cavity due to stenosis. Then when I left the hospital they forgot to refer me to physical therapy and so that is part of the reason why my back is so bad. But while I was there some strange things happened. The day after the surgery a young man came into my room and said it’s time for your appointment, get into the chair. I said, “I just had back surgery and I can’t walk.” So he said, “Hey, Charlie, come here and help me with this guy he can’t walk – we need to get the sling.” Now if I had not said that I did not now of any appointments he would have hoisted me out of bed too soon and could have crippled me for life is what the doctor told him. I found out later that he had just gotten into an argument with the janitor and he got the wrong room. The janitor said he was an asshole. I think I would concur.
Then I had trouble urinating so they wanted to put a catheter in me. I said okay and the nurse didn’t put any lube on the end of the thing and shoved it in my poor member hard and I screamed and she said, “Oh stop being such a baby.” I said, “Hey, how about I shove that up your…” well you get the idea. Needless to say me and nurse ratchet parted ways and they got me a new nurse.
Then also after I got out of the hospital the neurologist forgot to order physical therapy. And then when I called in and told my doctor he said to walk. I said, “It’s extremely icey out and cold and I can’t walk in that shit because it makes me hurt and I am afraid I will fall. I do after all have a lot of arthritic condtions. ” The doctor didn’t care so I called the neurologist and he says, “You should be in pt -you mean your doctor didn’t put you int physical therapy?” So then I went round and round between those two about whose job it was to assign physical therapy and I never ended up getting it which at the time I did not reaiize how much that would messs me up further.
The next day I was made to get up and walk around which I know you have to do. I have learned that the last thing you want to do is lay around with back pain. I try to stay active but they did what they just did to me in Ann Arbor – they pushed me too hard too fast. They didn’t believe me when I told them how much it hurt and that I thought they were pushing me too hard. Where am at now is much better. They explained to me that this is a rehabilitation center and that the VA uses forced physical therapy and I believe that. They go, “Come on, push it – go, come on – you can do it.” And if you don’t do it then they get short with you and make you feel like a wimp just like boot camp all over again. Except now – I’m not in the military anymore. So why should I be made to feel like I re-enlisted every time I go to a VA hospital? Should I suit up and get on my boots again every time or could I possibly be treated with just a little human dignity and respect. Don’t think it’s a lot to ask for all of us.
The next time was in Las Vegas. I had a strict Phillipino nurse who didn’t want me to take pain meds. Her logic was that if I slept during the day I must not be in that much pain. She didn’t realize I had only gotten about four hours of sleep. That was the first time I learned how to use a patient advocate but all they did was give her a stern talking to. Big deal.
Then I was back in Wisconsin and got yelled at for having pain again. I brought a pamphlet into the room with me that I found in the VA waiting room that said, “Speak UP!” It was great. It was all about speaking up if you are in pain. So when he said no I showed him the pamphlet so he increased my pan meds to a stronger one and I am not going to say what because I am sure that they will read this or some mother of a veteran or wife in Cleveland or something will be e-mailing me about how I should not take those drugs! But I was pain free for the first time in a long time. for the most part and that’s all I ask for. I know that I am never going to be down to zero pain level but I am tired of living up at seven to ten.
So then when I got down to Florida I was sent to the pain clinic where this doctor told me that Florida was tired of being considered the pain capitol of the country and would not be giving me any more narcotics for pain. They sited some news stories about veterans commiting suicide with narcotics. I never saw that story and got the same damn speech this last time four years later from the pain clinic here in Michigan. I’ll be damned if I’ve seen this story. I searched for it online and all I could find was some sporadic suicides by narcotics, but not ilke the epedemic they make it sound like. They want to use the ‘new age’ way of curing with a friendly smile and a shaking of the head they wave away and turn up their noses at anything that might actually help me. They then prescribed citalopram which I told them I did not like and would not take again because it made me more depressed and does not help with pain but they did it anyway. Of course. God forbid that the patient have rights at a VA facility as a veteran with a bunch of dumbledorfs who could not find their ass with two hands, a flashlight, and a mother-fucking search team.
And to top it all off – they put some wonderful things about me in my record. Apparently it is a crime to move from one city to another when you are going to a pain clinic because then you are using “multiple pharmacies” and then I have gone to several providers seeking narcotics. What they did not write is that I did not break the law. I moved up from FL in August of 2015. I went to an ER and he prescribed enough to get me to my provider. Then he prescribed me enough to get me to my pain clinic and I have been hospitalized twice and told pain clinic doctor this but he sees so many patients that he has no idea about me and assumed the VA was right and told the he agreed and now I have no idea if I can go to a pain clinic or not. I am going to go ape-shit on somebody if they leave me with nothing.
This may sound like a conspiracy theory and you can discard if you want but what I really think is happening is that they are discarding veterans with pain from the Gulf War just like they did the Vietnam veterans because they don’t want to admit to their mistakes and on top of that – the whole veterans suicide theory is bullshit. I think they want us to commit suicide from lack of pain relief and nights of fitful and lack of sleep. Pulling your hair out because you hurt so much so you either take a handful of something non narcotic like the VA’s favorit go to – Neurontin or the generic name Gabapentin and say goodnight or you blow your head off. It’s a victory for the US Government because that is one less veteran they have to treat and possibly pay for the shit we were exposed to.
I tell you fellow veterans – DO NOT GIVE UP THE FIGHT!! Hold on and we have to stick together. We can’t beat them alone, but together we are an army and that’s exactly what they want. We need to coordinate with the old duded from Nam and figure out a way to get our broken asses up to the capitol to protest and there is a lot of good research being done at Georgetown so maybe while we arae there we can go by there and get some godamn answers! I am sick of the bullshit. It’s time to get some feet on the ground out there in the nation’s capital and protest the treatment of veterans with Gulf War Syndrome. We could make the press and stay there until we get what we need to get by. I am calling the fucking VA on their bullshit!
I want to hear from you out there dear readers. I know I can’t be the only veteran who feels this way. I want to hear your experiences and maybe we can get together some petition or something. They have some goo stuff online for that these days. But we need a physical presence in D.C. to make a difference. I know that people read this blog so I need to hear from you. E-mail me at email@example.com and say hey, Dave – we need to do this shit and let’s figure it out. I don’t have any money but I do have a six year pending claim and finally got an attorney and they just filed a brief to try and get me my shit so if I do I will be buying a Winnebago and heading up there and I hope that somebody will be joining me. If not I will roll up in my chair out there and stay until I am heard. Like the guy from the movie ‘Born on the Fourth of July.” Ron Kovic. I will tell them, “In the great words of Ron Kovic, I am your yankee doodle dandy on wheels, I am your sad reminder of war that nobody wants to face or something like that.” I am paraphrasing because I forgot and I am too damn tired and lazy and in pain to look it up.
I am now in a nursing home and unable to walk. Haven’t taken a dump in two weeks and now I have to catheterize my pecker when I am in too much pain to punch out a piss because my prostrate is too damn swollen. I don’t know if I will be here a week or a year but I am not giving up.
I have tried it all. I contacted my senators. I wrote to the President and I even called the big poobah himself, the honorable secretary Bob. I got a few letters saying how concerned they were for me and how much they want our veterans to get the help they need and their hearts all go out to me and wish me well. I think it’s a form letter that they all have with a rubber signature stamp. I got a few calls when I contacted Secretary Bob and they tried to help but it’s like they don’t get it. They are healthy and they don’t seem to understand what is like for those of us with multiple conditions that make it impossible for us to work and causes so many side effects from multiple medications and some Gulf War vets have even got MS or Lupus or ALS and so far I thank the lord that i don’t have that at least, but I don’t know what the future brings and I know one thing is for sure – I will not be going to the VA hospitals ever again. I am so glad I have Medicaid after my separation.
So here’s my final thought on a solution. Do away with VA health care all together and give us all the best health plan in the country and all veterans are given preferential treatment at all hospitals in our country and if they are in pain they get what they need and if they want tests – they get the damn tests and we might even find a damned cure for this curse of a disease ! but then I woke up.
Contact Dave now with your thoughts on this article if you are a Gulf War veteran or family member of one at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recently I have been in the hospital after having a series of mini-strokes or T.I.A.’s. They are brought on from high blood pressure and stress and my entire right side went numb. The good news is that there is no permanent damage, but it is a long recovery because I am still very weak. I am recovering in an assisted living facility. The bad news is that it could be the sign of a regular stroke coming or an underlying disease. I am hoping it’s neither. However, while in the hospital I met a woman who worked in housekeeping and she noticed I had a Desert Storm veteran hat and she said my brother was in that war and never came home. I am constantly reminded of the fact that no matter how low my depression may get, no matter how bad my pain, no matter how bad my problems – there is always someone else who either has it worse or is no longer with us.
The world is full of pain and suffering which lives next door to beauty and passion. It’s been hard for me to see the beauty and passion in things lately with some of the things I have gone through in recent months. It’s easy to feel sorry for yourself and get caught up in self-pity, but I think that it’s important to try to find a way to rise above all that and do my very best to hold my head high even though it hurts, to smile in the face of adversity, and to laugh when I just feel like crying all day. I refuse to let the bastards who put me in this condition win. I will have my day in court and that day is coming in June – next month. I can hardly wait. My very first hearing with the VA in Detroit.
But getting back to the housekeeper in the hospital; her brother was in the Navy and he supposedly fell of the back of a jeep in Guam and was killed. Her family has always suspected this may have been a cover story for some foul play, but either way he is gone and it was during the war and he saw his share of the war. She gave me the following poem to publish and she said that General Colin Powell, Army (Retired), himself, read it and gave him an award for it posthumously. It is no wonder because it is truly inspiring.
The Kurdish Catastrophe
by CM2 Douglas Lanning, USN
US Navy Mobile Construction Battalion 133
I can’t explain all that I’ve seen, but I will do my best to say what I mean
The glow on their faces is almost enough, but you can still tell they’ve had it rough.
You look around, it seems so unreal, and you try to imagine how they must feel.
We came to provide comfort to the people here, they seem to trust us – it’s him they fear.
The leader of so many – Saddam Hussein, has caused their suffering and their pain.
From the land mines that he placed all over the place, to the napalm burns and blisters on a young child’s face.
From the people living out in the street, to the ones in town without power and heat.
From the people washing clothes in the muddy waters, to the many who had to bury their own sons and daughters.
You see a child selling whatever he can, all of this and more because of the man.
I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s all really all true, think about it a second, I’m not even through.
I’ve been to the hospital to visit a small boy, who picked up a hand grenade, thought it was a toy.
You cannot blame him, he’s just a curious kid, I can still remember vividly what his new toy did.
I really can’t believe they were able to save his hand, then I also can’t believe this was once all beautiful land.
The mountains from a distance, an eye-catching sight, they really are beautiful with their snow caps of white.
It’s just sad to think all of the people up there, a quarter million people, but he doesn’t seem to care.
When our operation is finally through, I cannot help but wonder what the people are gonna do.
Will they go on living the way they were before, or will the one man, their leader, kill even more?
I guess that is something only time will tell, from my observation, they’ve been through living hell.
Recently I was watching a show called WWII From Space on Netflix and they were talking about war bonds and the billions of dollars that were raised to pay for the cost of the war. It suddenly dawned on me that we no longer do this type of fund raising. With all the resources available to us with computers, the internet, texting and more I believe that this could be done rather easily. Back in the 1940’s celebrities had to crisscross the country to try and raise money. This is no longer the case, although a celebrity spokesman or two would be nice on a commercial.
A good place to start would be to end the involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan and all terrorist activities in that region perhaps not with troop involvement, but with much more bombing from Navy ships, aircraft and more. I think that if the American people thought about this they might be much more inclined to support this type of effort even if they only gave a small amount. That way, if troops are needed on the ground they are given all the equipment they need. No more outdated vehicles, body armor, etc… And we might actually win a war for a change. God knows something has to change.
I also think that this could work for veterans. I would say that any true American would support the troops and the veterans and so if the issue is there’s not enough money to take care of us all or the money that is being used isn’t enough and we are having to borrow it from places like China, then I believe something like a ‘veteran’s bond’ would be a great idea.
Veteran’s Bonds could be used also to take care of those of us who fought in war and have been waiting for a long time to be paid for service-connected claims. No longer would VA claims workers be forced to deny the majority of claims. They could actually feel good about themselves at night because they helped a war veteran.
The Veteran’s Bonds could help in many different ways. We could expand our mental health departments so that those veterans who are in serious need of help get the right can of service instead of just being handed some generic pills and sent on their way. Incidents like the shooting of the now famous sniper, Chris Kyle, could have been avoided along with several other incidents.
I firmly believe that this type of bond idea could work for many things to do with veterans and perhaps fix some of the problems wrong with our veteran’s administration and pay for our wars. After all, who wouldn’t get behind giving just fifty dollars for veterans? With roughly 318 million people in the United States that’s approximately $15,900,000,000. It is probably not a huge sum in the scheme of things, but it sure would be a help to taxpayers and veterans alike and I am certain that there would be several people that would donate much more if the campaign was done right. After all, the war bonds campaign in the 1940’s raised $187.5 billion and in today’s terms I am certain that it adds up to much more than that.
Perhaps the biggest thing to consider about this idea is that it would allow us to borrow from ourselves and not other countries. It would also be a huge morale booster. The idea has been considered before in 2010 when President Obama announced he was sending more troops into Afghanistan. Senator Ben Nelson from Nebraska proposed the idea for the same reasons I suggested.
In 2010 economists theorized that the economy has matured in ways that could make the idea of bonds possibly harmful to our economy since we have been urged to consume and not save for decades. Encouraging people to set aside money for the war could slow the economy. I’m no expert, but I disagree. I think that many of us would rather invest some money into the future and what better way to do it. However, there are many of us who are living paycheck to paycheck and couldn’t afford it. But, we all know that there are others who are not and these are the people that this program would be best for. If we could get people like Bill Gates or Warren Buffet to invest in it or celebrities we might have something. Consider our other options; print money or raise taxes. What would you rather do?
“To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan”