It was 1987, a little over ten years after the end of the Vietnam War, when Good Morning, Vietnam opened in theatres across America. The actor playing Airman DJ Adrian Cronauer won a Golden Globe Award for “Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture”, an American Comedy Award for “Funniest Actor in a Motion Picture (Leading Role)”, and was nominated for a “Best Actor” Academy Award. That actor was someone very special.
You probably knew him as Maverick or Rockford. He was an icon in film and television. At the National Veterans Foundation we knew him as a supporter who was there for veterans over and over. James Garner served as an honorary board member of the NVF for many years. In 1996 we honored him as our Veteran of the Year. But he wasn’t the kind of man to make a big deal of that. I doubt that there are even a handful of people out there who knew about his support for vets.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one: a duck walks into the VA…
Sometimes exaggerating to the point of absurdity is a way to draw attention to something. And sometimes a story needs no exaggeration at all. It’s absurd all on its own.
Everybody’s in, right? So what’s first class medical care? Maybe Bill Gates’s plan? The President’s? Donald Trump’s? One of those should work for sure.
If we all agree that our vets deserve that level of care, is the next step how to pay for it? Let’s put that on hold for a minute and back up a step.
Not that you’d want to get here, but there might be some usefulness in examining factors that might lead to 22 per day. Memorial Day, when we stop to remember and thank our veterans seems like a good time to look ahead to what we can do to prevent these suicides.
Not the usual profile you might think of, these caregivers of wounded warriors. Most of them are young. Many are parenting young children while holding down full-time jobs.
“I should have the same health care that the Senators and Congressman that sent me to war have.”
That’s what former Marine Lu Lobello said to me in an email after a harrowing experience with the VA…not filing the claim, nor proving the need, and not even the wait for benefits or medical treatment. All that had been done. This was something simpler. He was moving to Las Vegas and needed his prescription mailed to the new address. One time.
In January of 2014, CNN reported that at least 19 veterans had died because of delays in diagnosis and treatment at VA hospitals. In January of 2013 I posted a blog here about the VA’s backlog of claims and the fact that, according to The Bay Citizen, retroactive benefits had been paid to nearly 19,500 veterans who died waiting.
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