After attending a meeting of a group of veterans and one VA employee, I realized I had misinterpreted the use of the word when it came to veterans in general. I had assumed there was solidarity among veterans. Yet in this meeting, outspoken veterans were loyal to the broken VA, even after the sole VA employee had said the VA is broken. The rest of the veterans in the room said little, therefore suggesting tacit agreement perhaps.

Imagine if labor union bosses no longer supported the worker, but instead sided with management. The outcome would not only be laws that allow you “the right to work” for less than a living wage, but also the right to work without decent healthcare, less benefits and would eventually lead to indentured servitude — much like what occurred in my grandfather’s time in the mines in Utah. You would be expected to bow to the rich and eventually, “Owe your soul to the company store.”

Last week in Kansas, three top Veterans Administration officials were removed from their jobs after a huge investigation. One was placed in charge of VA finances after failing veterans in the job he had regarding their wellbeing.

With the opiate crisis now reaching deaths that exceeded 50,000 in 2016, veterans are dying at twice the rate of others from this “chemical crisis.”

What has not occurred is that those who are considered incompetent Veterans Administration employees, do not get reduced healthcare benefits, as many veterans have.

I would go on but imagine if you were considered incompetent, and that determined the level of your healthcare. It would be much like Nazi Germany, where it was determined by Hitler that the mentally ill children would never grow up to be productive citizens, so their extermination in the basement of mental institutions was ordered. At first a bullet to the back of the head, which after many deaths was found to be messy and costly, so gassing of these children then occurred.

The VA does not reduce the healthcare for their employees who most would consider incompetent, but it does do so for those veterans who many do consider as “lesser.” Yes, “lesser veterans” was the message I heard when sitting in a group of veterans.

After taking on the VA across the country, I now consider myself in solidarity with lesser veterans.

I plea to those of you who have children who now serve, or who will over time, to consider this: If your child is not “bullet proof,” then you may one day have a physically or mentally ill child returning home after serving their country. This weakness, as determined by the Nazis of WWII Germany, was unacceptable. Germany didn’t have to deal with that situation, as the whole country was given a form of welfare under the Marshall Plan.

Bottom Line: For some, perhaps many, your child may over time benefit by not serving for the country in the military, but instead be better served to simply go to work for the Veterans Administration. They will have good income, excellent healthcare benefits and good retirement benefits. Seven out of 10 VA employees in the VA did not serve in the Armed Forces, and all employees have better health benefits than many veterans for whom they provide a lesser form of healthcare.

There is solidarity in the VA, as indicated by the three top officials who didn’t do their jobs in the VA, being given different jobs and not having their healthcare benefits reduced. This is startling. You are perhaps better off not serving and you will receive better health benefits than many who have.

From what I gathered at the meeting, many veterans are simply not considered worthy of receiving decent healthcare. I now join that group and will no longer ask the VA for anything, I accept my incompetence, and will no longer say I am a veteran. I am simply a failed citizen, a “lesser” in a country that I once considered worth serving for. I am not bulletproof; I will assume I have already taken a bullet, and will live with it. I apologize to the country for not being a better soldier. I do not ask forgiveness, I simply ask that you do as the VA has done — take care of those who are bulletproof, and you will have less taxes to pay for veterans’ healthcare.

Bulletproof people don’t need armor, they have it. They must be the ones who should serve.

I take my hat off to all of you who side with management and not the workers, apparently you have won. The VA is proof of concept.

JACK PAULDEN

Clarion

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