From my last post I will jump forward to now. I’ve been out for 5 years now. It was, at first, an easy transition until I realized what I left behind when I got out of the military. Not that it was my choice since I was medically discharged, but leaving was a large impact on my life. The shelter that the Army places on soldiers is great. Many and I was one of them, complained a lot about how little solider’s get paid to do the duty that many refuse to do. But I finally realized later that so much was given to me that I didn’t need to be paid at a higher rate, though I think those that are married should be different. But let me explain, as a soldier your sheltered, you have a roof over you head for free, you also have free food from the chow halls, and you have free health insurance. The idea that you don’t really have to worry about anything, but doing your job is a great comfort once your realize it.
It gets harder once a family is brought into the mix. That’s why many say that a military spouse is the hardest job of the military. Military spouses have to deal with deployments, field problems, late nights, having their spouse pull 24 hour duty. It is a very hard job and I commend any spouse that takes on this job.
The comradeship that we lose when we leave the military will always leave a hole in our life as it was something that we built with fellow soldiers. Many soldiers find contract jobs that keep them close to the military life and close to other soldiers. When I first was discharged I had a great job lined up. It was with a church that I was a member of and was very excited to be apart of the company. It was a hard transition as I was accustomed to reporting and formations. It took almost a year to really get comfortable talking with the senior pastor as being a soldier you really didn’t approach your commanding officer. With the absence of orders I had to re evaluate my ability to conduct myself as a civilian and not a soldier. Even today I still have the military mentality of being on time, giving myself enough time to complete tasks, working until the bell rings, and referring to everyone as sir.
As a soldier we are trained to take orders, fall in line, wait, and don’t complain. These disciplines are instilled in us from Basic training and formed during our time in the military. We carry this for the rest of our lives and I believe this is the main issue with the problems we see with Veterans and the VA. As a Veteran who uses the VA I expected to feel the comradeship when I first went to a VA hospital. I didn’t, I felt lost and confused. I asked myself, “Aren’t these Veterans taking care of Veterans?” My experience with the VA so far hasn’t been good. My insight on why the VA is failing will hopefully help those that read this understand how we can fix this issue.
I don’t think that the VA knows it or not, maybe they do, but the training that we received as soldiers has affected how the VA treats us. Let me explain, I think that the VA uses this to their advantage because they know that soldiers will wait, they won’t complain and they will just fall in line as we have been trained. Many of those that died waiting for an appointment did just that. They did what I have done, have faith that fellow Veterans where going to take care of us. When I heard of the issues at the Phoenix VA, the hospital that I go to, the thought of the chain of command never entered my mind as the reason this was happening. Dislike my upcoming comment if you like, but this isn’t about those in power not doing their jobs, this is about Veterans not taking care of Veterans. As a Veteran the oath we took when we became soldiers doesn’t end when we leave the service. It continues to the day we die and hopefully we pass it along to our children so that they understand the importance of code, respect, and doing what is right when no one is looking. The core values that were drilled into our heads don’t stop once we leave service, it continues through live. My anger isn’t toward those that make the rules and told people to “fix” the system. It is toward those Veterans that allowed it to happen under their watch.
I and anyone that is a Veteran knows that the VA will take many years to fix. And if the country thinks that replacing the Secretary is the fix, then we have a larger problem. Firing the head of the Phoenix VA wasn’t the fix either. The fix starts from the bottom in this case. I would like to find out how many Veterans where hired because of who they knew, how many are riding the system because they only have to for a few short years to gain a 20 year retirement. In this case, the VA issues aren’t with the top, it is the bottom on up. And no civilian sector Doctor wants to work in an agency that has this type of corruption. If you want a fix, tell the new Secretary to come to Phoenix VA. Stay her for 6 months to a year. Fix one hospital to fix them all. Hold everyone accountable, fire those that don’t hold their own weight and be apart of the community your supposed to be fixing.
Soldiers don’t have a voice when we leave the military and for many of us that voice was our Non-Commissioned officers and once we leave who is are voice? Who stands up for us? Who is willing to take the hit and fight for our rights as soldiers? In the end….the main question is…who is going to take care of me now?