from a reader on the old system (dec 2004) —>The Veteran’s Administration is the organization charged with the alleged care of the physically and the mentally wounded soldiers returning from war in Iraq. One thing is for sure, the United States will abandon any psychiatrically disabled soldiers it can.
My friend, a former Air Force cadet, was turned away from a VA hospital even though he was hearing voices and his mother, sensing he was dangerously mentally ill, pleaded with them to admit him. They sent him away, continuing only to administer a regime of psychiatric drugs that were clearly not working. The Mother requested that the young man be hospitalized until the right mix of medication and therapy could be found. They ignored her requests. And so, alone in a New Mexico desert, he killed himsef, literally believing he was unfairly denied the throne of England.
The VA is like all social programs in the United States. It seeks to treat the most obvious and undeniable physical wounds, while leaving any disputable, or plausibly deniable injury or illness untreated. Mental illness, being something society barely believes exists, is the first item to be cut from every budget.
I am from an upper-middle-class family in California, sophisticated by world standards, and yet they literally believe mental illness is all a conspiratorial trick to get out of having to work long hours. And this is from a class of society that should be relatively sophisticated. What the redneck fundamentalists living in trailer parks in the Deep South believe is that mental illness is merely a demonic possession caused by the willful sinfulness of the sufferer.
Needless to say, the cowardly and soulless politicians of the United States know that cutting services to the mentally ill, especially if that can save rich people from paying more taxes, is something that will always win them political points. They are always sure to include funds to tend to people with missing limbs and so on, since not treating those people would reveal the true state of self-absorbed callousness that is pandemic in the US consumer-driven, self-serving Oligarchy.
The veterans from Iraq, as well as those from Vietnam, will continue to be praised with a grim sort of manliness by all of the good folks making tons of money off the military-industrial complex, and those blind followers who will believe in anything, so long as they are promised in advance that liberals, homosexuals and people of non-christian religions will be unhappy with it. However, the minute the post-traumatic syndrome sets in from watching comrades killed and of having to kill others based on arbitrary commands and self-serving authority, the praise will stop and the disenfranchisement will begin. When these men end up in the gutter with untreated mental illness, these same folks we praised as the only true and real, manly men representing all that is virtuously non-liberal, will now will now be looked upon as, you guessed it, “people who willfully chose a lifestyle of alcoholism and drugs,” just because of their “inferior morality.”
Before you sign up for the military, and before you believe you’ll get free medical care, be warned: The moment you can be passed off as a loser who’s faking illness just to get on welfare, your friends, your family, the social services and the Veterans Administration will be in a real hurry to discredit you.
What sort of government are these soldiers giving their lives for? It is a government that will abandon them if there’s any politically expedient way to do so, that is, if there’s any way to claim the former soldier is a malingerer. Any victim of Agent Orange, Gulf-War Syndrome, and every guy with a permanently bad back can testify to the same. I know. I’ve heard stories from these former vets.
Sadly, I wish I could say that this is the governemt’s fault, but it really is the fault of the average American, because, as the last election showed, it’s not a mistake, Americans are really as narrow, conservative, and ruthlessly self-interested as they appear to be. No, you’re not crazy for thinking so. My fellow Americans are mostly mean people. Kind Americans are becoming the radical exception. The current structure of medical care for veterans, for HMO members and for the poor is a structure Americans cling to because any other structure would involve being too generous, too kind, too gentle, perhaps too feminine for this nation of stony-faced, fundamentalist wage slaves.