VETERANS CORNER: VA campus in a turmoil

Veterans Administration facility at Togus. (Internet photo)

by Gary Kennedy

These past couple of years have been very problematic, depressing and a terrible weight on the shoulders of the American people. I personally have had a difficult time of it, but even more so for our veterans. My phone rings every day and most of the time it’s not for pleasant reasons. It’s usually because a veteran is in trouble.

I have given almost a half century trying to help veterans find peace either medically or emotionally. It hasn’t been easy but those who have given so much are worth every minute I can give.

The Veterans Administration has now been placed on time limits with vets. If you are allowed 20 minutes, then you have stolen five. The advent of the time limit with veteran interviews has service organizations doing the same thing. Walk through the corridor where all the service organizations are located and you will find five in a row have their doors closed, that’s all of them. Those hallways were busy with veterans and employees just two years ago. Strange but if you continue on you will find the store is open, the cafeteria is open and even the satellite Starbucks is open.

If you continue on you will see the door leading to the gym and swimming pool. Veteran access is denied even though they were built to service the veteran both for severely disabled veteran’s recreation and also for the much needed physical therapy that many vets including myself need to heal our bodies. Even though some of us were given letters from our V.A. doctors requesting the use of the gym and pool for medical reasons, we are denied. I hear this complaint often. One excuse is no life guard. Well, of course, to have a life guard you need to do some research and be willing to pay for that service. If MacDonald can pay $15-17 per hour why can’t VA? One of the problems is the administration is for the most part not veterans, are not in pain and don’t realize what their jobs entail. The pool and gym are isolated from administration and the medical theatre.

Recently, I saw a couple of guys going through the corridor that connects all building with gym bags over their shoulders. I followed in my wheelchair and they went to the gym. I later asked another about that access and he told me that administration was renting out the gym to employees for, I believe, $45. Two years we vets have been waiting to get back in the pool and gym, some of us with spinal injuries and this is what they do to us. How can I any longer look a vet in the eyes, allowing what I know, and say its Covid?

The V.A. campus is in turmoil and is a mess. Two years ago construction was to begin on the new building, “Community Living”. All the equipment and trailers full of supplies were delivered and dropped off on the lawn, what a mess. To look busy a small amount of tarring was done, staging put up but a minimal amount of work has been performed. I was told that the money wasn’t here. Four great construction months have gone by with almost nothing being built. Veterans and employees aren’t stupid. Don’t assume we are.

A couple of years ago we had great support from Washington, but now, nothing. Vets are being farmed out, bills aren’t being paid and veteran services have fallen by the wayside. The powers that be have let us down. They are too busy practicing judicial formats which they have no business doing. The vets are saying our country is falling apart and we who have seen the worse now fear even worse. These are feelings generated by vets regarding what they see and feel.

They are hurting and the enemy is at our back door. Vets know and feel these things. Some veterans are even being forced to pay bills which according to Optum they were not supposed to accrue. In my next column I will explain how and how much these bills we accrue from outside vendors are paid. Then you will understand what is happening and why.

Be patient my friends and fellow veterans, help is on the way. Stay safe and God Bless.

The views of the author of this column are not necessarily those of The Town Line newspaper, its staff and board of directors.


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