“The VA Is Not OK:” A Veteran’s Open Letter to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
by Kevin Wilson
Dear Representative Ocasio-Cortez,
I hope this letter, should it make its way across to you the perilous seas of social media, finds you in good health. Our health is, after all, one of our most important assets, a fact that is doubly true for a member of Congress. No doubt your job is as stressful as they come, and illness or injury could only compound that stress.
Fittingly, it is on the subject of health, or more accurately, healthcare, that I write to you today. No doubt you are aware that your stance on universal healthcare is a controversial one. Given the debate that’s been raging around it for years now, it should come as no surprise that our nation is deeply divided over the topic.
Though I disagree with you on the matter, I don’t seek to convince you to stop advocating for it in the halls of Congress. It is your job as a representative to, well, represent, the will of your constituents, and presumably they knew what they were getting into when they cast their ballots. You would be doing them a disservice to change your tack now. Plus, I’m not so foolish as to think that anyone has ever successfully convinced another human being to fundamentally alter their worldview in regards to politics based on something they saw on the internet. Mostly, we just shout at each other and come away feeling smug and self satisfied. It might keep people like me employed, but it doesn’t actually accomplish much of anything.
Having said that, I feel compelled to reach out to you on behalf of the veteran community in regards to your recent comments regarding the Veterans Administration and what, for lack of a better word, we call the “healthcare” it provides.
To those who haven’t had to deal with the VA, and who haven’t heard of the myriad issues lurking in the vast depths of bureaucratic inefficiency, shocking negligence, and sheer, unadulterated incompetence that we who have served our nation in the Armed Forces must navigate to receive this “healthcare,” it must seem like a socialist’s dream come true. Government provided at little to no out of pocket cost healthcare is, after all, one of the major selling points.
Unfortunately, Representative Ocasio-Cortez, the reality of the situation is that the VA is broken, and we, the veteran community, have paid the price.
I could refer you to numerous articles detailing scandal after scandal after scandal after… well, you get the idea. I could also attempt to acquaint you with the rash of suicides that have occurred on VA campuses over the last several years. I could regale you with countless anecdotes from friends and acquaintances who have had miserable, life-altering experiences with the VA. I could also share my own less than glowing account of trying to get them to acknowledge that maybe over a decade in field artillery really does screw up one’s hearing.
All are worthy subjects of discussion, though I’m afraid if we were ever to sit down and the same room to talk about them, you’d have to speak quite loudly and enunciate clearly. But, much like the broader topic of universal healthcare itself, they’re not why I’m writing to you today.
If you really must advocate for socialized medicine, please, I beg you, find a different system to model your proposal on. Nearly anything would be an improvement. You could release starving wolves in every VFW Post across the nation and not do a fraction of the harm to the veteran community perpetrated by the Veterans Administration and its half-assed attempts to “help.” At least the wolves would give us a fighting chance. Hell, they might just give the old codgers a bit of excitement, too.
Kevin “I’m Deaf as a Post and My Knees and Ankles Are Shot to Shit” Wilson.