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Yeah, I’ve Bled Before

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

The greatest thing I’ve ever found about the Army or the military in general is that we are all the same. Black, white, brown or striped. We are all the sameWe were all people willing to give so much more than ourselves for a country we believe in.

The greatest disbelief I have is how, our single nation, treats our Veterans. No one I know signed up for healthcare, yet it was a guarantee. Yesterday I sat in the VA Hospital for five and a half hours. I sat next to a Marine missing his leg. I saw an 80’ish-year-old woman rolled in with nobody with her. In all of this time, I saw nobody, save for one male nurse, care about anyone. I heard jokes and I heard people go out for coffee. As I sat there for over 5 hours, I heard a complete lack of respect for our Vets. No vet I know of expects respect, but a certain degree of empathy for Veterans sitting in the hospital, I would think is required.

We have a broken system. People advocate for universal healthcare, yet, do they realize the flaws in the system they promote? If a U.S. combat Veteran can sit ignored for over five hours, if a Marine with one leg can sit unattended, if a woman in her eighties can be rolled in alone and left alone, can anybody believe in a universal healthcare system?

All Americans have given so much. I don’t presume that Veterans are any better or more deserving. Yet, when the premiere universal healthcare system in the country is so lacking, doesn’t that give any thinking person pause? I sat there for hours witnessing people in unspeakable pain virtually ignored. Where were the compassionate universal healthcare promises?

After nearly six hours sitting in the Washington, D.C. VA, I ripped the I.V. out of my arm and announced I was leaving. A nurse, whose attention I finally achieved, rushed over and screamed, “You’re bleeding!” I told her, “Yeah, I’ve bled before.” I bled for my country, I bled for my family, and all I or any Vet expects is a little respect.

We have a system where Veterans are left with a decision to die or to die trying to get help. That’s not a workable or even a satisfactory system. Veterans are dying every day waiting to get help. If the very system we use to help, or at the very least, expect to help Veterans cannot function, how can a universal government healthcare system function?

Before the country can even hope to move to universal healthcare, maybe they can try to fix the one they have. I’ve bled before. Now, I and all Vets expect to be treated with respect and dignity. Absent such, can anybody truly believe in a healthcare system run by a bloated and unaccountable federal government? 

If we cannot expect, or demand, decency and dignity for Veterans, if humane treatment is beyond our capacity, what can we hope to achieve through a universal healthcare system?

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