Government Health Care

This is not a rant against Obama care, it is simply a short report on the experiences of my exposure with the Government health Care as provided by the VA.  I have been informed that is kind of a view of what health care is headed for.

In 1966, I was drafted into the US Army and during my first months there, we were told that the VA would provide our health care for life.  Especially after we had fought in Vietnam.  I should have known from my experiences with the Army Health care system what I was in for.  About the first time it frosted that fall, most of us came down with that strange thing called Upper Respiratory Infection (URI).  back on the street it was known as a cold and a sore throat.  We were forced to stand outside the orderly room for about a half an hour waiting for the clerk to fill out a sick slip to let us go over to the local dispensary.  When we got there, there was a line clear outside and again we were forced to stand in line outside for well over an hour.  Without taking out temperature, we were asked what the problem was and if it was a cough and a sore throat, they gave us a small paper bag that had URI written on the outside with a marker.  Inside was a small bottle of cough medicine and a small bottle of ACP's.  We were told that it was a combination of Aspirin and  Phenacetin which is a fever reducer that is not used much anymore because of the adverse effects.   Come to think of it, there were also some throat lozenges that tasted wintergreen just enough to cover the bad taste they had.   It was only when you really were sick that you got to see the doctor.  There were several cases of Spinal Meningitis on base and we were made to change our beds so you didn't have your head right over the guy sleeping in the bunk below you. 

The only other time I saw any health care in Basic Training was when they sent me over to the hospital for a Pre-Induction Physical as I applied for OCS.   I had to report in early and did not get to eat breakfast.  They drew blood in several small vials and I was made to wait to see the Doctor the next day.  I managed to fool around at the hospital long enough to get to eat a big greasy hamburger in the cafeteria.  The next day I got to see a doctor after waiting for over an hour for my 9:00 AM scheduled appointment.  He had the results of my blood work and basically asked me if ther was anything wrong.  No, approved.  

My next encounter with the Medical system in the Military was the result of an accident.  We were just finishing the last day of our "3 Day War" and as we hooked up a howitzer on the back of a gun truck, we missed the lunette and it was dropped instead of being hooked up on the truck.  The guy to my right fell down and the trail would drop on his leg.  I held on and held it just long enough to let him get the hell out of the way.  A normal size 10 boot would have been out of the way.  A size 12 was just too long.  They didn't even take my boot off, they rushed me to the hospital.  In the emergency room, they had me take the boot off and soak my foot in a pan of warm water.  I am not sure if that was treatment of because my feet were dirty from three days in the field without bathing.  It was pretty clear that the toenails were going to come off on my right foot and I would be using a crutch for a week or so.  They sent me back to my unit and I was told that if it got infected to come back in a few days.  They didn't X-ray the foot or anything.  I probably could have seen a Doctor later on but only if it hurt so bad I couldn't walk.  I was allowed to wear a tennis shoe on the right foot and not to walk in formation where it might have gotten stepped on or kicked.

Somewhere in either 1967 or 68, we were told that the only way we would get health care from the VA was to have a service connected illness or injury.  Any thought of having health care for free for life was over. 

When I came home from Vietnam, They gave us a 90 day supply of the little white tablets and a strip of the big orange tablets to continue our anti Malarial treatment.  On the 3rd of July 1968, I was discharged from the Army at Fort Carson, Colorado and went home to Wichita.  I went back to work in construction to earn enough money to return to school that fall.  In less than 2 weeks, I was sick every other day for a week and in the a civilian hospital for three or four days to run tests.  Nothing and the day after I was discharged I was one sick puppy again.  This  time my dad said to take me to the VA.  Yep, malaria.  They were running some kind of a test and I was put in a clinical trial to no only bring me back to good health, but to get rid of the Malaria parasites in my body.  For three weeks straight, i would get up in the morning, take a shower, put on clean PJ's and take a pill that I am sure horses couldn't swallow.  By about 10 AM, I would be so weak I couldn't get out of bed.  All day I would sweat and the odor that came out of me was so strange.  I could not eat lunch and very little for supper.  By evening, I was just so worn out that i would sleep like a baby for at least 8 hours.  When i would wake up I felt great.  That cycle went on for three weeks and one day they told me i was through getting the pills.  They wanted to keep me for a couple of weeks to run some more tests.  Wednesday of the next week, I had to go enroll at Wichita State and I checked out and didn't go back.  For a year I had a 10% disability.  It got me about $20.00 a month.  

Tomorrow I'll continue with the current day activities with the VA.



1 comment:

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