Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Veterans/Jesus/Poets Loveable

(P1) Political

Dumped Soldiers!- (Santa Rosa Press Democrat - recent letter)

EDITOR: Service men and women, upon returning from duty in Iraq, are being given less than honorable discharges after being diagnosed with depression, anger problems and post traumatic stress disorder. Instead of getting the help they need, after witnessing the horrors of war firsthand, they are being dumped and have a good chance of not receiving the benefits due them because of the type of discharge they receive. This is shameful.

Presently, it is estimated that 33 percent of the homeless are veterans, including people from as far back as the Korean conflict. They were dumped in the same manner and it is happening again. Supporting the troops doesn't begin and end with a cheer. All vets, present and past, deserve our support in helping them overcome their problems. It is the least we can do in return for their service.

Please, raise your voices locally and nationally to stop this betrayal. And be a little kinder the next time you encounter a person that is down and out, they may very well be a veteran.

JACOB W. BOUDEWIJN

Santa Rosa

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(P2) Philosophical

Jesus H. Christ!

I like this response by a reader of the Huffington blog to articles attacking the admittedly questionable James Cameron book and documentary claiming to possibly have found bones belonging to the family and, thereby, calling the resurrection into highly conjectured question:

The reason people have launched pre-emptive strikes against this doco has less to do with the validity of the information and more to do with the threat it poses to the current power structure by opening a discussion of who Jesus really was, which might cause some of the "believers" to question their "faith." And the church (and by default in this country, the government) to lose some of their unquestioned authority. Reasonable minds might question whether the resurrection (and thousands of years of mass mind control) was a bigger hoax perpetrated on human kind than this short-lived doco. By: bamboozled on February 27, 2007 at 05:30pm

Then too, and very related, I love the following from no less than Aristotle:

A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. Subjects are less apprehensive of illegal treatment from a ruler whom they consider god-fearing and pious. On the other hand, they do less easily move against him, believing that he has the gods on his side.

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(P3) Poetical

Who Woulda Thunk it?

Writer's Digest (April 2007) reports that, according to a survey of 1,000 adults interviewed by the Poetry Foundation, the response to the question "Do you think poets are more likely to be people you'd like to meet or people you would like to avoid?" revealed the following:

"An astonishing 70.3 percent of respondents chose 'meet' vs. 8.3 percent who chose 'avoid.' And respondents thought poets tend to be more respected (75.3 percent) than disrespected (4.8 percent).

"My gosh. People want to meet poets! They think poets are respected! Who knew?"

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4 comments:

Bob Fisher said...

I agree that Christians feel threatened by the loss of power through the fictionalization of its core values, but so far no one has stabbed Cameron as would be the case if this was a threat to Islam.

Adolf

10:19 AM

Ed Hagan of Nice said...

Eddie, Like you I am frustrated with the continuing homeless situation for veterans and all others that begs our society for solutions. I relate because I was homeless earlier in my life.

I grew up in poverty. I recall what it was like when my Mom would go to family to beg for funds so that we could cover the rent when we lived in the San Francisco Sunnydale Projects. After she had four kids it wasn’t as easy to hit the streets. When it was just my Mom, and I we did it a few times. Usually she was fleeing abuse from my drunken old man.

I remember walking the streets when I was three with my pregnant Mom searching for a place to stay. That was before we moved to the Sunnydale Projects where life became a little more stable but it was still a very dangerous neighborhood. It was especially tough on my Mom because she came from a fairly wealthy family. . She never had to develop street smarts and the requisite urban survival skills necessary to stay alive before marriage. Marriage had changed everything for her. Suddenly she was blessed with four children, me being the oldest and a father that was dysfunctional at all times except when he was working as a truck driver. Ironically he was a disabled veteran, like me. His name was Ed Jr. He served on Guam while in the Army during WWII. He was an alcoholic that went through three marriages. We were the first of his "kingdooms" left in poverty. I don't like to think about it much because it still hurts.

I recall being homeless for a short period of time after my stint in the Navy. The process began when I was laid off my job at Southern California Gas in Santa Barbara, California.

I had a “grand mall” seizure episode (something I acquired while on active duty in the Navy) on a Sunday. At the time I was driving back to my job and home in Santa Barbara coming from a visit to my Mother's home in Gurneville. I was bringing my baby brother John for a stay in Santa Barbara at my apartment. I became tired so I stopped the car along Highway 1 everyone that's been to San Francisco knows the area along the beach parking near the Cliff House. My brother John napped in the back seat and I in the front that day. I went unconscious then stiffened all my limbs and bit my tongue. Freaked my brother out. Especially all the blood. He was about 18 years old at the time and didn't know what to do. He said later he prayed that I had not died in the car after I woke up. Here I was a few miles from Fort Miley and chose to go home in Santa Barbara instead of getting immediate treatment. What an idiot I was back then. The next day was a bad day for me so I called in sick to my job supervisor at Southern California Gas and then went to the Long Beach VA Hospital, the closest VA facility to Santa Barbara according to the VA operator, I called to obtain treatment (less than 180 from discharge). My mouth had swollen and you could clearly see pieces of my tongue were bitten off on both sides. Back then I had a wide space between my two front teeth so the tip in the center was left undamaged. The VA doctor, an old man with glasses and a mustache, informed me I would have to give up my driver's license if he put me on dialantin. He didn’t say much more than that. I told him I had to have my license to work at Southern California Gas. He said nothing and sent me home with no other advice. He never even scheduled me for any tests or follow-up. What that doctor did was MALPRACTICE I've always wondered if I could file a malpractice case against him with the AMA or California Medical Society. What he did led to years of problems including becoming homeless.

I was discharged from the Navy in May 1972. In June 1972 I was hired on at Southern California Gas as a Construction Crew II worker. Then, when I returned to work after taking my sick day to get treatment for my seizure I was fired. My swollen face made it impossible for me to hide. I think the company thought I had lied about my health so they terminated me the same day I returned/.

That was late in July 1972. After being fired I couldn't find any job that paid a wage. I took commission sales as a Life Insurance Agent. I never earned any commissions and used up my savings on gasoline and phone calls trying to hustle business. I was a pathetic failure. But, at least I tried. I moved in with a girl friend to save money. My failures compounded as I began to drink more heavily. I ran out of saving by November 1972. I finally became homeless when the girl friend tossed me out for not paying my share of the rent, getting frightened when I had more seizures and increased drinking made me an undesirable roommate. I lasted living in my car for about two months in Santa Barbara. I was arrested for drunk driving, which I now believe, may have been a seizure in part (I admit I was drinking and told the officer directly with no added excuse). I went to jail. Lost my home, my car, was impounded. After being released from jail I hitched a ride up US 101 to Guerneville. I moved into my Mother's broken down shed in the back of the house. I was just one step up from being homeless.
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OBSERVATION:
I think the general pattern of what happened to me at the time is common occurring often to many veterans that end up homeless. Then there comes a point in the path that splits: the person falls between the cracks, societal safety nets works or fails on to the point of no return.
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While living in the shed with one light behind my Mom's place in Guerneville I met Mr. Warren Brisbane for the first time. Years later we became friends and colleagues, working together on vocational rehabilitation cases when I consulted with Department of Rehabilitation. I don't think he remembered me or at least was kind enough to never acknowledged it.

Warren came by as a veteran’s representative with EDD (HRD back then) asking if I had a job or wanted services. I was too embarrassed to accept his offer of help. I took a longer route. It took time for me to reenter the community under my own power. I received help from my family by allowing me to live there. Then, by getting hired on doing minimum wage work as a dishwasher part-time 5-10 am, then stock boy at a small grocery 1-5 pm and finally bartending to pay for my drinking 7-2 am. I did all this until September 1973 when I enrolled at Santa Rosa Junior College. I tried to take advantage of the GI Bill but like so many others it took advantage of me by not paying on a timely basis. Six months before I got my check. I wasn't alone this was happening to many veterans at the time (VA was headed by Rhoda"bush" at the time, he was incompetent).

In short my spiral downward started when I had gotten terminated because I showed signs of having a grand mal seizure episode to my employer. I was dumped with no directions on what to do next. I filed a claim on the seizure with the VA but they claimed my four seizures in military hospitals didn't count and were related to a pain medication I was given. But my doctors discontinued the pain medication after the second seizure. Later I saw a VA Neurologist for a disability exam at his office door. Actually he never really saw me. In fact he didn’t even bother to look me in the eye. I got to his door at the SF VA Hospital and he said "You don't have anything wrong with you” then he shut his door in may face. What kind of exam was that? I wondered. I wondered if they paid this guy for not doing his job. Or maybe he was doing his job the way the VA wanted done at the time. I will never know because I have never seen any of my records on this exam even though I requested them. Malpractice again? At least a violation of ethics should have been called for under the circumstances.

I continued to have seizures for the rest of my life but they have not been as bad as the early ones. I have these incidents when I work too hard and failed to get enough sleep. If it were not for family, especially an understanding wife and a few lucky breaks at key moments in time I might still be on the street.

NAW None of that's true. I'd have been dead by now. A meeting with Jesus would be so poetic, especially if HE had my VA MEDICAL FILE.

Duncan said...

As for me, I believe we are all, at least a lot of us, including me, are guilty of knowing about the VA and doing nothing. The recent exposure of the malfeasance at Walter Reed showed conditions that did not start within the last five or six years. It has been going on for years.

I believe that the sudden influx of wounded Iraq soldiers overwhelmed Walter Reed. That Building 18 had not been used much in recent years and left to deteriorate. That the building was used to relieve overcrowding in buildings that were in acceptable condition. That no one at Walter Reed made any attempt to clean the place up is beyond my comprehension.

Well, actually, maybe it's not. I served two years at Headquarters, U.S. Army Medical Command, Europe, Heidelberg, Germany. I came into contact with many medical doctors and nurses who with very few exceptions were professional dedicated doctors in uniform. These were the younger, practicing medical personnel. The older, higher ranking medical officers were another breed of cat. They were doctors who found themselves better suited to administration than practicing medicine.

But the Army Medical Corps as a whole was pretty fine bunch of medical, dental, psychological and veterinary folks. These are the men and women who treat soldiers.

Then you have your Medical Service Corps officers. These are the guys who manage and administer the medical facilities and operations. I served with and for quite a few of these guys. Remembering them makes me understand what happened at Walter Reed.

Back in the dark Vietnam days, if an officer was not considered combat leader material, or for many other reasons was not assigned to combat unit command, there were a lot of administrative places to put said officer. The Medical Service Corps was one such place. Any officer deciding to make a career of the Army serving in the Medical Service Corps knew going in he/she had no chance of ever making general. The odds against making full colonel were close to those for winning a lottery. Whether the idiots who got fired (relieved of command) at Walter Reed were MSC or MC, I don't know. Back in my day, they would have been MC, that is, medical doctors better at pushing papers than needles.

To wrap this up before it becomes a rambling bore (whaddya mean it already is?), I'll sum up by saying the MSC does not always, if seldom, get the cream of the administrative officers available in the Army.

Anyway, all this has been going on in the VA for many, many years. Witness Ed Hagan's piece here. why haven't we, the healthy, wealthy homeowners, done something about it?

Edward Coletti said...

Well, Duncan, I mostly agree with you here, especially about the need for our citizenry to rally behind the wounded veterans. However, did you know that the VA, following the Vietnam and "Born On the Fourth" days, actually was reformed into a true model of U.S. medical care? It was done under the stewardship of multiple amputee Department of Veterans' Affairs Secretary Max Cleland who later became Senator from Georgia only to subsequently be smeared by the Bushies in order to get their hack Saxbe Chandler elected in his stead. Now we must rally the troops to insure the VA continues to care about wounded veterans the way Cleland did.