Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Observations At The V.A....

I made my monthly visit to the V.A. hospital for my blood test.

I only go so they can test and see if the dosage for the blood thinner is correct. While sitting in the waiting room at the blood lab, I started noticing things all around me.

First thing I noticed was that there was a LOT more people than normal waiting. I don't know if the economy is causing an increase in people using V.A., or if all the sudden there are more vets getting checked. One of the blood techs did say that there seemed to be more patients than usual lately.

Secondly, I noticed that there was a wide range of ages. Young guys, old guys, and all the in-between guys! There were guys that looked healthy, and others that didn't look that good. Young and old, all were either fast walking, slow walking, walking with canes and walkers, and some not walking at all, but were riding in wheel chairs.

You see all races in the waiting room. Black, White, Latin, Oriental, and Native American. There is always a good number of women as well. I think that we sometimes forget about the number of women that proudly served in the Armed services, nearly all were volunteers.

The guys sitting there were dressed in a varied manner as well. Some wearing suits and ties, some in khakis, some in jeans, some in very obvious clothes from thrift shops and even those in very ragged, worn out garb. But the clothing was clean, regardless of it's condition.

Probably the main thing that stood out the most was that all of these vets were sitting there with their heads held high. They sat there PROUD. It didn't matter what their financial status was, they were there in the company of fellow Vets! Men and women that shared some of the same experiences, the same ups and downs, the same weaknesses and strengths that can only come from situations that would never be understood or lived by anyone but a vet!

Suddenly, I was both humbled and proud to be in that waiting room with all those vets, those warriors from past battles, both long ago and recent. Most of the battles were physical, but some were fought in the memories and minds of a few vets.

Most faces, both young and old, were lined with the map of the emotions often felt. Lines that traced the joy and happiness, as well as the sadness and sorrows. More importantly, the lines were very obvious on nearly all of the faces I saw, told me the story of smiles...many smiles. In fact, there was no shortage of smiles in the waiting room as we sat there.

Amazingly, as I sat there I was overcome with a feeling of peace, taking comfort in just being in the company of these men and women. Even though none of us had met, we were friends! Even though we had never met, we were BROTHERS ! I only wish I had the words and the ability to share that feeling. I don't...

Some of you will understand, some never will ! Again, I'm sorry...

Now what do you say to a fresh, hot cup of coffee, my friend? Oh, and please bring your smile, OK? OK!


Did it MY way said...

You have the words and the ability.
God Bless

Degringolade said...


I am a vet and I work at the VA and I agree absolutely.

Lots of folks coming in for the first time because of hard times. They are OK with coming in for the health care because they earned it.

They are our brothers.

Anonymous said...

One of the best comments I read about the VA was stated in the book RANCHO COSTA NADA, by Phil Garrington. I can't quote directly (my brain has far too little RAM for that, lol), but it stated that the VA was a great place to cure hypochondria. Sitting around quite a few folks with missing limbs, that 'head cold' sure does begin to look a little silly.

God Bless all of our Vets - they truly deserve our support and thanks.

YeOldFurt said...

I stay away from the VA (specially Houston) even tho I am a vet. I watched them kill my Dad because he was obstinate about being "experimented" on. He was vocally disagreeable and the person who headed the Va there and then, made sure my Dad was "treated expeditiously" to a fatal degree.

JoJo said...

Good morning, You have such a way with words. Your feelings are always brought forth in such a beautiful way. People just know how you feel. Thanks to all our Vets and present soldiers too.

Maitreya said...

It is a really powerful feeling when you experience that kind of connection with 'strangers'.
God Bless our vets and service men and women.
Sometimes with all the negativity floating around it is easy to forget how many good people there are in our country.

Lydia said...

Hi Jim,

Sure you have the words, you used them right here and so beautifully as always.

As Maitreya said, it truly is a very powerful feeling to experience a connection that way.

Nice post Jim.

Baby Sis said...

Bubba -
You said it beautifully, understandably, and made us all feel , so emotionally as well. I'm proud to be a SAC wife, Airman sister, and Seaman daughter. God Bless You All!

HermitJim said...

Hey Tony...thanks for the kind words and for the visit!

Hey Degringolade...I'm glad that the vets at least have a place to go.Probably will be many more before it's over .
Thanks for coming by!

Hey YOF...sorry to hear about the experience you had with the V.A.
So far they have always treated me with respect

Thanks or coming by today!

Hey glad to see you this morning! Don't know about you, but I'm ready to go camping!

Hey, thanks so much for coming by!

Hey are certainly right about there being a strong feeling in the connectionof strangers. I remember an old song called "A Stranger's Just A Friend You Haven't Met"...that about says it.

Thanks for coming by...

Hey smiling friend! Always good to see ya! Thanks for ther kind words, and for dropping by!

Hey Sis...I sure am glad you came by today! Always a pleasure!

Thank you!

Rabbit Hill Farm said...

Beautiful and poignant post Jim.

HermitJim said...

Hey Rabbit...thanks for the kind words...and especially for the visit! Always glad to see you drop in!

Phelan said...

I am sadly not a vet nor in active military. My father however was. When he lived in Florida, the VA treated them like livestock and they missed some issues with my father's lungs and heart. Once I got him to move here, the VA caught it right away, but it was too late. As I sat in the VA Hospice I watched the vets that were there, so many were young, my age, men in their 30's and 40's along with older gentlemen. It broke my heart to see them alone, rarely did I see visitors for them. My father's room mate had photos of his deceased family, he was the only one left, he had outlived his own children. I sat and talked with him while my father slept. He died shortly before my father did, and I grieve for him just as I grieve for my father.

Sorry you hit a nerve I confess. I am a daddy's girl, and I miss him dearly. And I am proud to be a Navy Brat.

HermitJim said...

Hey Phelan...sorry about the treatment of your father at the V.A. in Florida. I guess like everywhere else, there are some good nd some bad!

The first time I was in the hospital here in Houston, it was at Christmas time. I had family drop in to visit, and I have a cousin that works there that came by from time to time. Iwas more fortunate than a lot of the guys who didn't have ANY visitors. One day a man came in, very jovial and smiling just to say hi. He was from the VFW...and they had made it a mission in their life to visit the veterans in the hospital on Christmas eve. They brought small little gifts for everyone, like packs of new socks and underware, but it was the gift of a visit that meant the most! What a great bunch of people!

Sorry, didn't mean to be so long winded! Anyway, thanks for the visit and for taking the time to comment!

Phelan said...

My oldest son's boyscout group gathers things like socks and toothpaste and so forth, then they go caroling at the VA giving those gifts as well as books.

HermitJim said...

Well, you can tell your son and his friends that those things really do mean a lot, and that as a Vet...I say "thank you" mainly for remembering and sharing the time! That's the most important gift of all!

Anonymous said...

You almost make me want to use some of the bennies I earned--almost. After leaving the Army, I swore I'd never have anything to do with the military again. Every time I've made "one little exception" and hooked up with some one who was in the same group I was in, or hooked up with some organization, I've regretted it.

But I'm resigned to the fact that things that work just fine for other people seldom work for me. So nice try, Jim. Keep that positive attitude--I hope it never bites you in the rear end.


Missi .... said...

Hiya Jim Buddy

You just give me goose bumps when you share with us life through your eyes sometimes, in a good way. You really paint a picture with your words my friend that makes ones heart move even if they havent been there personally.

I am glad to have you say that you could see the story of many smiles ... I have always said if you smile alot in life your wrinkles will fall the right way.

I always visit you with a smile.


HermitJim said...

Hey Ex-Wac...first, let me tell you how I became involved with the V.A. in the first place.

At the time, I was living in East Texas and it was close to Christmas time, so I decided to come to Houston for a visit with my Mom and sisters. Two day before Christmas, my sister came and took me to her apartment where we were going to spend the night. Climbing the stairs to her second floor apartment, I had to stop and catch my breath a couple of times. Bad sign for such a short climb. After we got inside, I sat down and took off my shoe to show her how swollen my ankles were...then I couldn't get my shoe back on. We decided that it would be best to go to the hospital right then. We decided to try the V.A. even though I had never registered there. We drove to the emergency room parking lot, she let me out and went to find a parking spot as the lot was pretty full.

I started walking to the entrance, but kept having to stop to get my breath. The V.A. police came up in his golf cart, stopped, and said "get in, I'll give you a lift" and took me right to the door. He even helpedf me inside. First good sign!

When my sister got there, we walked up to the desk and I told the nurse on duty why I was there, I also told her I was not registered. I had no i.d. card, no paper work, nothing but a drivers license. That nurse looked me right in the eye and said "well, let's get you taken care of first, we'll deal with the paper work later! We don't turn anyone away!"

I knew then I would be taken care of! Sorry, I didn't mean to write a book, but was only telling you this so you could see why I am comfortable going to the V.A.

I'm glad to have you drop by today and I hope you weren't too bored or put off by the long reply.

I'll try and remain positive...and if it does bite me in the butt, I have some bandaids right next to my bullets...thanks again for the visit!

Hey Missi...There you are, my Aussie friend! I've been wondering what you were up to!

Thank you for your kind words and for taking the time to stop by for a visit! We don't see enough of you just keep on coming by and bring that beautiful smile. It always brightens my day, ya know ?

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Ginger said...

What a lovely post. I couldn't possibly say anything more eloquent than what you said and all the comments. Thank you, Jim, for selflessly serving in our nation's military.

HermitJim said...

Hey Ginger...good to see you! Thanks for the kind words and most of all...thanks for the visit!

Bullseye said...

Nothing compares to being in the company of friends...nothing.

HermitJim said...

Hey got that right, my man! You got that right!

Marie said...

HermitJim--I have great respect and appreciation for those who have served/are serving our country. Thanks very much for your service! Great post.

Anonymous said...

I understand ... 22 years, E-8 retired.

HermitJim said...

Hey TJ...bless you, brother!

Thank you for your service, and for coming by!

tjbbpgobIII said...

The V.A. has really improved from when I first went about agent orange, ie stand there , follow the yellow (or whatever color) line, sit down and shut up, don't make waves and above all be compliant as we are giving you a free service and you will abide by our rules and our time constraints.Now I find that it's welcome home, what can we do for you and will you help and be a part of your treatment. this is a far cry from the early years where I went to visit a friend and smelled someone about 6 hours dead in the same ward he was in, that hadn't been removed yet. I don't believe they have any more wards, just 2 people to a room. The doctors I have are very professional and dedicated to the veterans they serve. Sorry to go on and on but the differences I have seen since 1972 and now are so profound. You who are suffering and are eligible should give them another chance as it is very good to once more be in the company of good men(and women).

HermitJim said...

Hey Tjbbpgolll...good to see you! Ever since I started going to V.A., I have been treated with the most utmost of respect.

You are right that the company is good! Thanks for coming by!