Thirty months at war in Vietnam. Twenty-three years in the military. The horror of war imprinted in your brain to be replayed at any time. Triggered by almost any incidence, it comes at you like the ballistics at the end of a twelve-inch gun. Emotional trauma so strong the only place you can cope is in the structure of the military. How would you expect to be treated after decades of service protecting your country? You would like to think that our veterans are treated with great dignity and the respect they deserve.
We often hear horror tales of how our veterans are treated by VA Hospitals and healthcare in general. It usually involves waiting times. Recently there was the story of the nurse who was so occupied with a game she let a heart patient die on her watch. I have passed this off as local occasional incidents no different than our accepted medical treatment, but the problem is much more widespread. I got permission from my brother to tell his story of malpractice the VA. He gave me permission if I stick to the facts. I have waited three years to relay this story as he does not want to be bothered with legal action against a country that he fought to protect. Unfortunately, this is not a made-up Halloween story to just horrify you.
It was getting late at night and the pain continued to grow in Brother’s abdomen and radiating to his back. What has happened now? Bad food that has turned his gut up-side-down? Brother decided to return to Fayetteville, NC to make a life for himself after his service. He was never married as he did not want to burden another with emotional trauma delivered by military life. Only supported by a few friends and family members that did not forget him after three decades intermittent contact, he considered Fayetteville a safe-haven because of its military nature. Brother’s temperature had continued to increase over the last hour from 101 to 103. He called his friend Buddy to take him to VAMC emergency department.
After medical personnel had examined him at the emergency room, Brother was told that the pain was coming from a hip that was damaged from combat and military life. He was told to go home, take two aspirin for his temperature, and he would be just fine. Brother knew this was wrong. When you are deathly sick, signals alarm in your body that cannot be ignored. He pleaded with the medical personnel that something was deadly wrong, but they passed him off like a fly had lit on their ham sandwich.
Brother instructed Buddy to take him to Womack Army Medical Center (WAMC) on the Fort Bragg military complex. After emergency medical personnel examined him, he was immediately catharized. He had kidney stones blocking his bladder. The pain in his abdomen was from a swollen bladder that was about to rupture. His temperature spike was determined to be coming from a kidney and urinary infection. After further examination, it was determined that he had pyelonephritis. This deadly disease can kill you within hours or days as the bacteria spreads into your blood stream. He was put on IV antibiotic and kept in the hospital for over a week. Later x-rays showed that he had multiple kidney stones that needed to be removed from his kidney.
If Brother had complied with VAMC emergency, I would now be visiting his grave. Are directions coming from the top that former soldiers are to be managed in a way that fits a budget? Managed in a way that soldiers nearing late-life increases in benefits should be allowed to die to control cost? Is the VA in Fayetteville over-burdened with too many returning soldiers? Are government unions protecting employees to the point that incompetence has become a way of life? Whatever happened to duty, honor, country—General MacArthur is shuddering in disgust. President Donald J. Trump, clean up this cesspool!
(In research for this article, I found this notice from September 2014 or the period when Brother’s emergency occurred. Get with it Elizabeth Goolsby, Medical Center Director, you’ve got to be better than this. If you are a veteran living in Fayetteville, do not use the VAMC.) –Mark Pegram contact: vitamindmark at gmail