Memorial Day is approaching and our veterans are still overseas dying at the hands of the enemy. It’s why we celebrate the day, right? Did you know that more than 900,000 veterans who made it home are waiting in line to get the disability they have been promised for their service? Did you know more than 600,000 have been waiting more than 125 days? Did you know that the media have been busy covering gun control, the Arias case, figuring out who will take the Boston bomber’s body rather than talking about more important topics?
I am a proud veteran who has served in both Iraq and Afghanistan and was medically discharged from active duty in 2011. I returned home and no one noticed. So I went on with my life, filed my papers with the Veterans Administration and started the waiting game. The same waiting game hundreds of Berkshire County veterans are struggling through along with millions of vets across America.
Unfortunately our voice does not get heard due to the fact we have to call an 800 number and the VA cannot work with us because it does not communicate with the branch offices. Veterans have to become homeless and lose everything to even be considered for an expedited claim. The suicide rate is increasing among veterans on a yearly basis. A study found that 95 percent of those who are injured in war are now able to be saved, a huge number compared to past wars, and what does this mean? More veterans with disabilities than any previous war, more veterans who need help reintegrating into society, and more acceptance of our wounds, visible or not.
I can only hope to see our county come together and write our congressmen, our senators, to push for the change needed to help every veteran who comes home and the families of those who do not. I feel ashamed at times to be an American who has given seven years of my life to a country that cannot even give five minutes of theirs.
I went for a six-mile walk on a recent evening and pushed through the pain and suffering of my deteriorating body. Only five homes had American flags. I walked by a home with a gentleman outside and thanked him for having the flag up and he looked at me dumbfounded as to why someone would thank him. I guess the love for the flag is only for ceremonial purposes and holidays that give you the opportunity to have the day off. Bring back the meaning of these holidays and make it your goal to celebrate them everyday as I do. Do your part for those who did theirs so you could sleep tight at night and raise your kids and enjoy a life of freedom and happiness. Semper Fidelis.
EDWARD S. PASSETTO