Well, the first thing I did when I got back to Hawaii one week ago was to attend to all my VA appointments. I was hoping to see my primary care physician, a nutritionist, chiropractor; the list goes on. Back in May, before I left for the mainland, I had opened a claim with my Senator, Daniel Akaka, who also happens to be the VA Committee Chair for Veterans Affairs. I had failed to been provided counseling in the midst of a crumbling marriage because I (and my then-spouse) were expected to travel two hours each way (by public trans, since we didn’t own a car) in order to get my entitled care at the VA medical center west of Honolulu.
In my claim, I also highlighted several issues I had met with in trying to attain the promised care by the VA, since I figured that it would be important for the Senator to know, given his position in the Senate. Near the end of the summer, I added a claim having to do with the GI Bill, as I was given faulty info on what to expect as far as processing times and payment schedules. It was impossible to find answers, if indeed they exist. For example, not a single VA representative in something like a 4,500 mile radius from Hawaii could answer a single question about education benefits, since all specialists are now centrally located, and, don’t ya know, in another time zone. wtf
So in all this, I have huffed and puffed and blown hot steam at all kinds of poor unwitting VA people (not always without good reason, though that shouldn’t excuse some of my behavior). I realized I expected way too much out of the VA. When I met with my PTSD counselor recently, I realized that I only get episodic when I am at or dealing with the VA. I don’t get tense or agitated unless it revolves around the benefits I was promised when I gave up 6+ years of my life.
Do you know what it feels like to look back on almost a quarter of your life and wonder if it was worth anything? I mean, I signed up explicitly for college money, and now the VA has thousands (250+, as of last week, when I checked) of others like me jumping through flaming loops just to get the entitlements that were suspended in front of us like carrots on a stick. I waited over 8 years to get where I am at right now, and there was a very real possibility that I would be effectively forced to sacrifice one more year of my life before collecting that benefit. Do you know how maddening it is to be promised something just to watch the carrot only get farther away? People risk their lives for this shit, and this is how they are treated in return?
To throw a bit of salt in the wound, Sen. Akaka (who, by the way, was rated one of the five worst Senators by Time magazine) got his GI Bill just fine back in the day, and decided my claim (which indirectly contributed to the failure my marriage) wasn’t worth much more than two pages of self-congratulatory drivel. I would share it with you if I hadn’t already soiled it and flushed it back to where it belongs. Oh yeah, and I found out my PTSD counselor is getting deployed, so I will get shuffled to another. How is that for obscene irony?