Des Moines County Republicans

Richard’s Ritings – one hundred twenty-three

FINALLY, the world knows about our health care system for veterans.

I have been waiting and waiting for this to happen, but thought I would leave this earth before the truth would come out.

As readers know, I was in during the Korean war, but was sent to Germany to clean up the mess left by the second World War. I was in the U. S. Army, a communications chief, which meant I had to go in the headquarters office, open the safe and get out the code we would be using that 24 hours in our code converters. I was cleared by all the security folks like the CIA, FBI, etc., before I could get access to these SECRETS, which always bothered me a little bit. Who in the world knew me well enough to say I was a responsible person, at the ripe old age of 18?

Just before I was to return to the United States I had a terrible accident, due to another person’s stupidity, and was involved in a fall, that I believe broke my back.

One might say, why didn’t you go to the doctor? A fair question.

If you have ever had any kind of a home life and you have been removed from that environment for a couple of years you know how anxious you are to return. That was my case.

There were no hospitals near our camp. You would have had to get transportation to a hospital, on an Army base, somewhere in Germany, encounter a strange doctor and probably miss your return home which I was not willing to do.

I kept hobbling around and my buddies helped me with the heavy stuff and I arrived home with everyone else, except my back has never been right since that fateful day.

I worked at the time in Altoona which was close to Des Moines where I lived, in fact it was on 28th street, which is about six blocks from the Veteran’s hospital there.

Following trips to the doctor, hospitalization, traction, braces, crutches, canes and about everything else available at the time, I was no better and have suffered with this my entire life. In fact, I liked Prednizone so much, and it masked the pain so well, I became addicted to the drug and remain that way to this day.

I went to the VA hospital in Des Moines one day and had a quick interview with some guy who apparently was in charge. He asked me if I served in a combat zone, and I said no, I was in Germany but it was a combat zone a few years earlier.

He told me I was not eligible for any help from the VA because I did not serve in a combat zone. I believed his story until a year ago when a doctor’s assistant at the VA hospital in Iowa City urged me to gather up my records and file a claim for disability. I couldn’t believe it.

Let’s back up just a few years and examine how I, of all people, could even get into the VA hospital at Iowa City.

I was Legion Commander at the time in Mediapolis and an important looking envelop came in the mail one day announcing that veterans who did not have access to any VA hospitals or doctors could now get access by filling out one of the enclosed forms.

You see (and this is where the public has not been informed, and is not being informed to this day) if you wanted to get into any VA hospital you not only had to be a Veteran, you had to fill out paper work to show you could NOT AFFORD public care. In other words, if you could afford care, or had insurance that paid for your care, YOU WERE NOT ELIGIBLE to get care at any VA hospital.

And that is where my spouse gets really upset.

You volunteered and spent your time in the Army, in fact, you volunteered for eighteen months and they kept you overseas for that long, extending your stay at their whim. And because you got out and made something out of yourself, you are NOT eligible for any access to the VA health care system?

That’s right honey.

So, I filled out the paperwork, explaining that I could afford local health care, and yes, I did have insurance and sent it in.

I got a notice right away that they had my paperwork and would be hearing from them soon.

Well, that soon ended up being THREE YEARS LATER when they finally assigned me to the Iowa City office.

I soon found out that if you wanted to see a doctor in a reasonable time frame, you should ask for the 8 a.m. time, which was taken for months in advance, so I opted for the 11 a.m. time, and usually got in to see the doctor around 2 p.m.

After no food or drink after midnight, it was a relief to be able to get to the hospital, check in at the computer, and head to the lab right away for the blood draw. That was nice, and following the draw we would go up to the third floor to the restaurant and eat breakfast.

The immediate relief I got from being accepted at the VA layout in Iowa City was that all drugs cost six dollars for ninety day supply. Since that time the price has been raised to 27 dollars for three months supply and I can order them up on my computer.

After being advised by a doctor last year that the idea I had been given, that only combat zone personnel were eligible for a pension was not true, I decided to resurrect my life, on paper, and file for a disability designation. And for the record I have completed that process, which took about six months and am now awaiting a physical.

I have no idea what the outcome will be, but if it is anything like I think it will be, the question will arise as to why I spent an entire lifetime in pain and on drugs?

And I have thought of the answer I should use, but nothing will take the place of “why are you folks so incompetent”?

Write me if you wish at

(This article is the product of the author and is not associated with or submitted by the Des Moines County Republican Central Committee nor any other organization)