John Darkow, CagleCartoons.com

John Darkow, CagleCartoons.com

Veterans have earned the benefits available to them

I Don’t Want Charity

By Jim Daly

As a Veteran Service Officer I see a lot of veterans seeking their benefits. I also do a lot of “outreach” through personal contact, monthly newspaper articles, and monthly radio interviews to let veterans know they are qualified for benefits. Many don’t believe that they have earned any benefits. They, of those I talk to, don’t want charity.

Many say: ‘I didn’t experience any combat.” Or: ‘I wasn’t injured.’ And the very common: ‘I don’t deserve anything.’

A veteran a while back came in saying: “I haven’t come in before because I don’t want any charity, but I can’t do this alone. I was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I hear that it is caused by Agent Orange. I need help.”

I said: “pancreatic cancer is one of the 15 ‘presumptive conditions’ caused by Agent Orange exposure.” Then I told him that veterans benefits are earned, not charity, and explained and helped fill out the applications for the benefits he was qualified for.

Another veteran came in saying that he had been able to tough out his PTSD until recently. “I think the guys worse off than me needed the help. I could deal with it. But now, I’m a mess. I don’t know what to do.” I told him that he had earned the benefits that could provide the help he needs, and we put in his application to the VA.

Just the other day, I was talking to a veteran who is in the process of getting two finger prosthetics. These are a relatively new medical development, so the process is new and taking longer than normal, with inevitable mistakes along the way.

In normal conversation, I asked him how the process was going. He told me the story of the process and the VA mistakes along the way. Then in tears, this veteran said to me: “I don’t deserve this. These are $8,000 each. I even called the VA representative I have been working with one day to decline them. I don’t deserve it.”

My response was: “Yes you do. Your benefits are not charity. Think of it this way: Many years ago you made an investment in your country. You signed enlistment papers investing your life in this country for four years. Now is the time to accept the earnings on that investment. The government, the Veterans Administration owes you this. They owe you your life.”

The people of this country can never repay veterans for the sacrifices they made. No, not all veterans suffered miserable conditions, horrible working conditions, or personal combat action. But they were ready for anything.

With the U.S. all volunteer service, those who sign-up for military service know that in today’s world situation there is a possibility they could be called into combat. They are prepared for it. They are equipped for it. They are trained for it. The United States military, all branches, are the best equipped, best educated, and best trained in the world.

But they still run into injuries and conditions that are service connected. And that is a primary reason why the Veterans Administration exists: to support veterans in dealing with health care and specifically with those service connected conditions.

Do you have some health issue bothering you today that might be the result of your military service? Please contact a Veteran Service Officer and discuss your benefits.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The Vietnam Veterans of America Veterans Service Officers have not been able to meet with Veterans due to the governor’s stay at home order. But by special arrangement with WorkSource (where my office is) I will be able to again meet with Veterans and family members beginning next Thursday.

My office hours will be 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., Thursdays, by appointment only. Please call Jim Daly at (360) 581-5153 to set up an appointment. One should call when you arrive, but you will have to wait outside the office until I am free. I will then come out to escort you to my office.

If the demand becomes overwhelming, I will gladly make special arrangements.

Please Remember: Many of our young men and women have sacrificed greatly around the world, to protect our country, our rights and freedoms, our allies, and the Flag of the United States of America. I am proud to have been one of them, and would gladly defend this great country again today or any day.

Jim Daly, a retired captain in the U.S. Marine Corps, is a member of the Aberdeen Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 224 and its Veterans Service Officer. He is also a member of the Vietnam Veterans of America.