How much would you charge for your legs? How about your arms or your eyesight or hearing? Then after we had made a deal for these body parts and functions, how long would you wait for payment? One year? Two years? How about five years or even longer?
It has recently been reported nearly 600,000 veterans today are backlogged and waiting for their VA benefits. These are our warriors who made a contract with you and me, joined the military, went to war to help save our freedom, were wounded or harmed in some way in that service and are now waiting for us to fulfill our end of the contract. Our end is to help them with their expenses and their medical costs. Our end is to assist them in their return to mainstream life. Our end is to help them with education so they might figure out a way to earn a decent living in light of possible disabilities. Our end is to be grateful for their service and their sacrifice. These are our warriors. These are our champions. We should be ashamed.
Their body parts are scattered all over the Middle East. Their sense of sight and their sense of hearing are lying on the sands of the Iraqi and Afghani deserts. In many cases their sense of worth is also lying there. And so the question: How much would you charge for your legs? How long would you wait for your contract to be honored?
I never cease to be amazed we, in our zeal to stay free, send our military into harm’s way with the promise we will be there for them when they need us and then we turn our backs on them. Our politicians and bureaucrats say to these champions, be patient, we will get around to you in time. Most of these slick little dudes who fill the offices and bureaus of our government never actually see war. They never actually feel the pain of limbs lost. All they apparently see is paperwork. They read statistics.
Here’s a thought: Get them out of their little cubicles. Get them out of their offices. Send them to the hospitals and rehab centers and let them see what war is really all about. Let them walk with the veteran who experiences artificial limbs for the first time. Let them read to the veteran who gave his sight for their freedom. Let them comfort their spouses and children as they face an uncertain future.
Then send them back to their little offices and see if they are not in some way a little more compelled to speed up the process of caring for these warriors. When they understand these are real people with real issues and not just numbers on a sheet of paper, they might try a little harder. The military did their job, now it’s time for civilian bureaucrats to do theirs.
Here is a little exercise. Look down at your legs. Take a long look at you arms. Gaze out at your spouse and your children. Listen to some great music. Now imagine what you would charge to give any or all of that up and how long you would wait for your agreed-upon benefits. How patient would you be? How long would you wait before you got really angry? It’s a fair question.