Armed Forces of wars past and present are honored with monuments and memorials. They are symbols to remind us freedom is not free, it is paid for in blood. Those who served wrote a blank check to our country payable at any cost to include giving their life in the name of freedom.
In May, we honor those who served in remembrance of the heroes who fought the battles. For many, the battle is not over. The wars of Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf Desert Storm, Iraq, Afghanistan -- they burn deep within us. Many are laden with PTSD, diseases caused by agent orange dioxin exposure, dust inhalation caused by explosives. We battle with our legislators for equality. This addresses only a few of the battles we deal with today.
For the most part we appear healthy unlike those with loss of limb and paralysis. On those special days in May there are parades. The streets are lined with flag waving Americans to honor the fallen and those of the living.
Politicians gather on the steps of government buildings making speeches of praise and glory that are soon forgotten. Those who fought the battles and their survivors never forget.
Soldiers, sailors and airmen submit claims to Veterans Affairs for benefits to include hundreds of pages of required evidence to prove their disability a demanding effort for the veteran. The VA offers little assistance in how to locate the evidence required, for the most part the veteran is on his or her own. Many are denied benefits only to learn the injury or disease is not on the VA’s list or not enough evidence was presented. Some were on covert missions and where they were and what they did in time of war does not exist, personnel records are sealed classified. These are the unlucky vets who can not prove their very existence on a mission and are sick with diseases. These records should be made available to the veteran for their VA claim.
What does our Congress do about these discrepancies, nothing. Legislative bills are introduced to afford VA benefits for better quality of life. All too often these bills fail because of expenditure. We who served are not worth the dollars. It is not easy to accept what our government fails to do in caring for its veterans. Many of us will go to our graves with a thought in mind: Our government did not care enough for we who fought the battles.
All we ask is for our legislators to do their job, pass legislation to help our veterans in need.
JOHN J. BURY
U.S. Navy, retired,
Vietnam War veteran, Media, Pa.