VETERANS CORNER: Need help? Don’t go it alone

Gary Kennedyby Gary Kennedy
Veterans advocate

Good day my fellow veterans. I am so pleased we have taken this first step in personally solving our own problems with the government and the VA systems. Hopefully we have initiated change. I am in hopes that our interplay with Senator Susan Collins and Rep. Chellie Pingree will bear fruit. When Sen. Olympia Snow was in office, it was an office of action. I miss her very much; there was no bull when you talked to her or John Cummings. I entered her office on many occasions because I needed to or because she needed me to; there was action in any case.

The article I wrote two weeks ago has received a tremendous response, such that I have hired Kismet Computer Service, of Route 17, to set up a private website so that veterans can vent their problems and feel safe in doing so.

Just recently I was approached by a veteran who wanted to speak to me at VA but insisted upon speaking in a private place. I have known this 100 percent disabled American veteran for some time now. He expressed to me his need to approach VA for additional help regarding a matter not in his records. I told him he had the right to ask for the help even if he wasn’t 100 percent disabled. He replied, “I have been told that if I asked for that they could re-evaluate my pension and I might lose some.” I replied, “that is absolutely ridiculous, you served your country and you shouldn’t feel fearful of what you have because you are asking for additional help. That is absolutely absurd.” Long story short, I offered to meet with him and go to VA services with him so that he would feel safe. It breaks my heart that some vets feel that way and that someone of the VA would instill that thought in his mind. What are service organizations and the VA thinking when they cause this kind of stress to our veterans? In my opinion those kind of intellects don’t belong at the VA and we need to dig them out and get rid of them. Together we can do that.

The initiation of fear, false statements and prejudice that existed with the Lilly administration will only come back to bite you. There are people from many different social habits working in the VA system. If some of you don’t realize it, some of your testing and x-ray opinions are farmed out to California. Look at the signature and you will see Japanese, Chinese and even Middle Eastern names. Prejudice is the #1 conflict between veterans and the VA system. Smiling should be one of the lessons taught at training sessions. Yes, some vets are trying hard to deal with but some departments like 3 North know exactly how to defuse negativity in vets. I don’t know who trained them but they stand out in a crowd and in my eyes are very special. I will speak more on that later.

Veterans are in pain and harbor many memories of lost opportunity and life. I would suggest those of you who harbor such feelings should read the books and letters written by Dr. Jose Rizal a Southeast Asia optometrist, who was brilliant, speaking many languages, doing eye surgery and fighting an inner conflict where his countrymen were considered totally primitive and nowhere equal to the mother country of the time, Spain, who held possession of the islands for 300 years. His correspondence with Mr. Blumentritt, an Austrian, helped in the creation of the only government validated service to mankind organization in the world. If you like to research great people and events then this is one of the greatest ever. He died at the age of 35 by a Spanish firing squad. He gave his life willingly and even let the Spanish shoot him in the back; bad mistake for Spain! He became a martyr and national hero of the Philippines. He just wanted all to be solved with literacy in a peaceful way, without prejudice. They have organizations in many countries of the world today, even the U.S.A. He just wanted freedom acceptance and equality in the world. I myself was knighted 16 years ago and this year was promoted to Commander of KOR.

My heart is always for the poor, sick, elderly, and children and, of course, our veterans. Doing these demeaning things to our veterans is like, if not worse, to elder abuse. If you haven’t served, maybe you should visit the thousands of graves here in Maine and read the epitaphs on the stones. We have a great site at Togus you might not be aware of where Buffalo Soldiers are buried, very historical. The Winthrop Library has a good deal of information on Togus.

I myself was a patient at the VA a week or so ago and was so pleased with the core, respect and service that was given to me by the doctors, nurses, aids and even the janitorial staff of 3 North. I was very sick and they brought me back to my feet. There are a lot of good people at VA, but unfortunately, the bad ones as always are on top making bad, self-serving decisions. It has to stop. I shared all of this with the VA’s Patient Advocate Angela McKenny, LCSW. She has heard most of this before and does what she can do when veterans ask for her help. Thank you Angela.

I would be remiss in my reporting if I didn’t mention my experience with the Emergency Department. They ran every test imaginable to find my problem. I went to Urology but it was after 3 p.m., and there was only one doctor. Although I was in agony there was no help for me. The Emergency room was the only pathway. I was dehydrating so they hooked me up to an IV with antibiotics and did so many labs, my arms still ache. I went home that night with my wife and suffered through the night. The next day I received a call from emergency telling me I had to come back into VA. I was admitted and sent to 3 North and I.V’d with powerful antibiotics. So let’s be fair, there are some wonderful people working there with nerves of steel as some vets can be testy. “ Thank you 3 North from Julie and I.”

Last but not least, by far, I want to thank Glenn McDonald for his article of support of the October 18 issue of The Town Line. He was on the money and as adamant in regards to helping and safeguarding veterans as I am. Now we would like to hear from more of you. Perhaps we can be of help. If you can’t write your own response, just give Glenn or me a call. We would be more than happy to assist with your writing and/or your problem, no matter what.

The website should be up and running in a week. It will be a place where we can discuss any issue regarding VA and/or your needs for service. It will be personal and private if you wish or we can share with other readers, if you so choose. Glenn and I are both seasoned writers and researchers. Don’t go it alone. We will keep you informed.


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