An open letter…

I try to keep the discussion here a little light & politics-free. Much of that is because I work in politics; I like having a space that’s not oriented towards politics or policy.

The beauty of owning your own space is that you get to break the rules on occasion. This is one of those times. You’ve heard about “death panels” in health care reform. I’m not going to dignify that smear by repeating it; besides, it’s been debunked over and over again.

Thing is, that slam is getting old. So the people who oppose health care reform have settled on the next target.

The VA.

The gist of it is that there’s apparently some kind of “death book” which heavily encourages disabled veterans to call it quits with life.

Needless to say, it’s bullshit.

The reason the VA is a target is because it’s by far the most popular health care delivery system in the country – and it’s the only socialized health care system in America: the doctors are employed and paid for by the government.

And it works. How do I know? Because I use it, and it’s literally saved my life.

I wouldn’t be here, writing these words, if it were not for the VA.

I deployed to Iraq in 2003, returned in 2004. I was lucky – I only served one combat tour, and as far as I was concerned, one was enough.

My physical ailments aside – and they are depressingly many – what was really killing me inside was the mental anguish caused by post traumatic stress disorder. It got so bad that I lost my wife, I lost my home, and, at one point, was technically homeless (I was crashing at a literal flophouse).

I was able to come back precisely because I was able to receive treatment at various VA clinics and hospitals. Without them, where would I be?

Here’s the thing: the same people that are now launching this morally repellent smear against the VA – which has done nothing wrong except succeed – were the same people that had no worries about sending me to war, thus ensuring that I would use the VA when I returned.

These are the same people that wave the bloody shirt of American soldiery, and have no qualm about using it as a bludgeon against their political enemies.

No more. Lord, I’m pissed.

If you oppose health care reform, don’t think you can get on my good side by “thanking me” for my service. I have no interest in your thanks. You want to thank me, you can start by not insulting me with your phony gratitude.

You don’t get a free ride on my sacrifice, and that of my friends – and then turn around and smear one of the institutions that has allowed me to become a functioning member of society today. An institution that, incidentally, would’ve been able to help far more of my fellow veterans had you taken the time and wit to properly plan for the war you chose to engage in.

Oh, and one more thing: if you want to spit on me, and my service, and that of my friends, at least be man enough to do it to my face, instead of hiding and skulking around with the rest of your jackals.

Something tells me, though, that you folks won’t do it, since that would take actual guts and willingness to sacrifice, something none of you have been willing to do, choosing instead a free ride on my sacrifice.

No more. It ends today.

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