I wish I could finish this story by telling you the U.S. government was generous
and forthcoming with my requests for care and disability, but I can’t. Talk
about a throwaway, Uncle Sam was happy enough to call me Brother when
I did his dirty work for him. As long as I pulled the trigger, he liked
me enough to award me a Silver Star and thirteen Bronze Stars for Valor, but
when time came to help with the physical and mental injuries I’d sustained
in his service, he acted like I didn’t exist. The government’s
official policy for disability claims is to accept the word of a decorated
combat veteran – that’s in the regulations – but even to
this day, they do not.
I fought for years for my disability rights. Ultimately,
I wrote the President of the United States, the Chairman of the Veterans Committee
for Funding and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. I sent copies of my
records and all supporting documentation. It took years, but I finally
succeeded in getting them to acknowledge my disability.