Editorial: Veterans Deserve Better

The Navy, Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard…the protectors of American freedom, the brave men and women who are willing to sacrifice everything to defend our nation. Whether it was the American Revolutionary War in the late 1700’s, World War II in the 1940’s, or the successful takedown of Osama Bin Laden in 2011, our freedom-fighters relentlessly give their all for the United States. Every Nov. 11, we celebrate their service and sacrifice. I believe that when veterans finish their tours and come home, they deserve the best medical treatment possible. However, I think our veterans are not currently receiving the optimal level of care.

Ever since the Revolutionary War, men and women have volunteered to fight for our country. Many Americans, however, may not realize how difficult life can be for veterans when returning home. Many soldiers suffer from psychological trauma such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), flashbacks and nightmares, and some go the length of taking their own lives. According to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), an estimated 20 veterans commit suicide every day. Another estimated one million veterans suffer from mental health illnesses, but some choose not to get treatment due to long wait times at facilities. Men and women who have sacrificed everything for our country shouldn’t have to worry about waiting to get the care they need. If anything, that should be the last of their worries. VA facilities need to expand or become more efficient in taking care of patients.

Some VA medical centers have made crucial errors when tending to veterans’ medical needs. The Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis faced allegations of endangering the lives of “numerous” patients. A startling article by the Military Times claimed that one veteran was “forced to change the dressings on his foot wound for several days”. Since the wound wasn’t being treated properly, his foot was amputated. The VA was responsible for taking care of his needs but failed to deliver. This is absolutely unacceptable. How could the sole place for veterans’ healthcare have such blatant disregard for our nation’s heroes? Just when things looked as if it couldn’t get worse, it did. After this event unfolded, “administrative actions” were taken, yet during the course of these “actions,” not a single person was fired. This is a disgrace, and I hope that other VA facilities are much more efficient than this one.

Oak Hall Director of Technology, and Army Veteran, Michael Martinez explained that when he returned to Germany after his tour in Saudi Arabia for Desert Storm, he had a difficult time reacclimating to normal life. “I spent the first evening turning on and off the water faucets and flushing the toilets,” he said. Martinez articulated that free-flowing water was somewhat of a “novelty” after spending half of a year with a canteen. “Just turning on the lights, without anyone seeing you, was extremely different,” he continued. Martinez added that Veterans Day is extremely important to him. “When I came to this school 20 years ago, there were two iron-clad rules… the second being that Veterans Day was mine,” he said. Currently, Martinez is in charge of Veterans Day activities at Oak Hall, and “always makes sure it’s a good one every year”.

We salute Mr. Martinez and all the men and women who have served and currently serve to protect our nation every day.