Today is my dad’s birthday, he would have been 67. In five days it will be two years since he died. I hoped that after two years of reflection I would have gained some perspective, but that hasn’t been the case.
Usually, the least important parts of a person’s life are the beginning and the end; it’s the middle, how they lived that truly counts. But when I think of my dad it’s hard not to think of the suffering he endured at the end of his life. He waited 8 months for chemo and he died 8 months after that. One of the last thing he said to me was that he wanted someone to shoot him in the head so the nightmare he was living would end. It’s something that crosses my mind daily and at the same I hear the House of Representatives have voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act again. I remember when Mitt Romney was campaigning a few years ago he said “people don’t die in their apartments because they couldn’t get healthcare.” It makes me angry that people believe that because that is exactly what happened to my dad.
I cringe when even after 13 years of war, people are still war hungry. All of these people fail to realize that 40 years after the Vietnam War has ended veterans and their families are still paying for it. And the wars of my generation will be no different. Forty years from now there will be ripple effects from the wars on terror that we won’t see coming. What price are you willing to pay?
I’m disappointed that we think throwing football games in honor of service members and veterans does anything to actually help them. I’m disappointed that people think watching a movie like American Sniper actually helps veterans. If all of the news about the failed state of the VA didn’t raise awareness a movie or football game won’t either. If all of the people that went to the game or saw the movie took an extra 5 to 10 minutes to reach out to their legislators to tell them to fix the VA maybe 22 veterans wouldn’t commit suicide every day and maybe veterans wouldn’t die waiting for healthcare, either.
I don’t like living in a place where it’s so easy to cast aside people that don’t meet our expectations, whether they are veterans or not. It isn’t someone else’s problem, it’s our problem. I hope that someday instead of remembering my dad’s agony I will only see his cheshire cat like grin and his love for life.