Friday, March 27, 2007
could have been any given night. There was a young man who had
forgotten it was too many years since his stint in Vietnam, and he
had broken his leg playing baseball in the park. He was in the
trauma room, interview room #1 had a Korean Vet who was having
trouble with his family because he began wandering at night and was
refusing his medication, and a young man had just come in the
emergency room because he was having trouble breathing and needed
his medication renewed.
It could have been any emergency room, any where in the world, after
all it was August and it was a Friday night. You had to expect a
busy night in any hospital emergency room.
They were all looking for help, and help was what they found, each
of them had nothing in common except they were veterans - different
ages, different problems but they all shared a past where they had
served: Korea, Vietnam and an Active Duty Airmen who was on his way
to Desert Storm. Each and every one following his nation’s orders to
honor and protect the freedoms we enjoy.
It could have been any hospital, but it wasn’t. It was the
Canandaigua VA Medical Center on a Friday night in 1992. It was a
night like any other night, before this nation began to balance
their budget on the backs of the very men who lived and died in the
name of freedom.
At one time the Canandaigua VA, like so many other VA’s across this
great land, was a full service hospital; it had an Operating Suite
and an Intensive Care Unit. It provided full medical care and, yes,
it had a 24 hour Emergency Room.
Then came the cuts in budget and the cuts in staff. It started a
spiral, reducing the size and scope of services our men and women
could expect when they came to Canandaigua. Canandaigua had become
upstate New York’s sacrificial lamb for the federal government.
Today the hospital stands as nothing more than a shadow of it former
self - nothing more than an outpatient clinic, a nursing home and a
veteran’s residence. Don’t get me wrong, good work still goes on
there, in spite of the Department of Veterans Affairs. There are
good, competent, caring people there - caring for our veterans ever
But there should be so much more.
Today there are people like you filled with outrage over the way our
men and women in uniform are being treated in places like Walter
Reed Hospital, Spokane, Washington and even in the VA. They fight
in far off places like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Bosnia, only to find
when they come home, to the land and people they love, they are
faced with another battle to get the care and treatment they need to
truly come back home. We are outraged…
We plan for battle. We plan for war. But for those injured and
wounded in so many ways we play it by ear, we under fund, we under
staff, and they throw roadblocks, and obstacles in the way of
Leading this battle on the home front are new “Band of Brothers”
heroes of a different kind taking up the gauntlet and fighting for
decent healthcare. Our own people like Charles Schumer, Hillary
Clinton, Louise Slaughter and Eric Massa. They are joined by state
representatives from communities from sea to sea. In states like
Oregon, in cities like Chicago, in counties like Chemung, they join
in a battle against hypocrisy. The common worker, sometimes
veterans themselves, heed the call and join forces to insure we are
heard. The Sheet Metal Workers Union Local 46 in Rochester was one
of the first to give unconditional support to the call for Mandatory
Funding. They knew that the promise to care for “those who have
borne the burdens of battle” must not fall to the “bean counters” in
Washington. They and thousands of others like them now demand reform
of the veteran’s healthcare system with one voice in Washington.
We too, Operation Firing for Effect 2008, are calling for Mandatory
Funding of the Department of Veterans Affairs. We want to insure
that healthcare for our veterans is guaranteed to each and every
veteran: past, present and future. We too want to insure that each
and every person that has answered this nation’s call to duty has
easy access to the healthcare they need.
We proudly stand beside them and any hero that defends the needs of
our veterans. This column each week will do the same.
Veterans for Veteran Connection
Operation Firing For Effect Campaign 2008 - Mandatory Funding
986-7322 Cell: 585 329-4711