Tuesday, September 1, 2009

if it's not broke, maybe we can still fix it

during my 1 day off this weekend, i attended a veterans benefits fair. the event was sponsored by the regional VA hospital and other affiliated organizations. i went because i had one, and only one question on my mind. is there any portion of my unused GI Bill benefits available to me?

upon arrival at the post where the event was held, i scraped my knee cutting between a couple of shrubs. more on that later. anyway, the entrance wasn't well marked, (had i have known land nav. was involved, i would have broken out the lensatic and 1/50,000 comics), but using THE FORCE, i was able to gain entry.

inside, i met some really nice people, who would fight for my job if i got activated. thanks anyway, i've been out of the reserve for years. one guy who could get me an official COLD WAR VETERAN certificate of appreciation. ski did you realize we are that old? he also works for UNMET NEEDS, which is a very worthy charity, so it was cool to speak to him. there were also some people there from an iraq/afghanistan veterans support group to help any of those guys who are having trouble, get the counseling they may need.

finally, i found the VA rep. and asked my question. 'no sorry can't help, should have used it in the ten years allotted to you.' ok, thanks anyway. as i started to walk off, the VA rep. stops me, 'hey, you got any service related disabilities?' no. "no broken bones or a bad back or knees?' i was a paratrooper so yeah my back and knees hurt. i strained my back once while moving a large tree limb after a big wind storm at ft. riley. yeah, i went to the hospital but i was ok. 'hey you might qualify. i got asthma after i was reassigned to a post in the southeastern United States. it's only a 10% disability but that's $123.00 tax free every month for life, plus it front loads me for other stuff.'

i was shocked. here is a person telling me to apply for a government disability, because i strained my back years ago. truth be told, i see a chiropractor 2-3 times a week. is that a result of poor tree limb lifting technique or piss poor execution of PLF's, parachute landing falls? how about all the car accidents i've been in since separation? or the foot chases and fights? what about poor weight lifting technique while exercising?

i felt dirty, ashamed. i thought VA disabilities were paid to injured/wounded service personnel. sure, if a guy gets burned when the helo he's riding in crashes during a training exercise, he should get paid. without a doubt, our combat wounded deserve the money and medical benefits. but here, i got someone who developed asthma telling me it's ok to stick my hand out, and see if the government will drop some money in, cause i got dinged up all those years ago. this is while we have troops coming back from the middle east without hands or feet or an eye.

i left. i wanted to cry. i called my buddy ski. he set me straight. he's still a good dude. i feel bad for the guys the government has refused to help, like the AGENT ORANGE vets, or the GULF WAR SYNDROME guys. but here is some change because you get short of breath when this weed is in bloom. maybe that's where my unused GI BILL money disappeared to. i've lived a pretty good life. i hunt and fish, chase the kids and wife. i can work and exercise, and i'll be god damned if i'd take a dime from a vet who can't do those things.

glad i didn't mention that i scraped my knee on the way in!!

bonus points if you can identify the image at the top.


  1. Well first.. you got a day off? There's an Obamabot who's not working by choice that needs your tax dollars!!

    I have a sorta similar situation, a 5% permanent partial disability due to a lower lumbar issue. Mine's with the state of Ohio (my former home) but I could have tried to 'settle' for a number in the few thousand range. I took treatment, but let the case close once I felt I was able to live pretty normally. Should it ever become a big issue, I can attempt to reopen the claim, but 10 years later and I'm still walkin'...

    And no clue what the image is. I'll be watching to see if anyone answers correctly.

  2. I forget the name of the insignia, but isn't it for wartime medical discharge?

  3. C'mon, Jim...you KNOW that I know what that is......you just don't see them very often anymore. You & me were given a much-updated version in late 1991, yes? Only ours was on a red background....

  4. brooke very close....

    ski yeah but e mail the name....

    i made ski swear to e mail his response so as not to ruin it for others.

    the contest continues...

  5. ok, ski the master of obscure military trivia has the right answer. brooke is very close. contest ends on sunday.

  6. the image's unofficial name is the ruptured duck and it was given to honorably discharged vets at the end of WW II. it let them continue to wear their uniform for up to 30 days after separation due to a clothing shortage. what we get today is a minute man lapel pin.


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