Welp. I did something today I didn’t think I would. I reached out to the VA for care. Granted, M has strongly suggested I do so repeatedly. As a doctor, it seems it’s excruciating for him to watch my health decline for lack of care. I also reached out to the Patient Care Advocacy to assist in ensuring I’m not subjected to further abuse. (They’re but the first in the chain-of-command.)
It’s not the first time I’ve sought their aid. While the advocate I worked with was kind and recognized the abuse, her efforts, unfortunately, led to retaliatory mistreatment from other VA employees. It led to my retreating under the rock. The fact I don’t speak on the phone (and informed them several times) hasn’t helped matters since the online communication tool rarely works correctly.
Most times, I’m unable to respond to messages received. When I’ve sought technical assistance, I was met with questions about my status, as if I’m new to the VA system. The few times I’ve gotten through, I was offered phone appointments, much to my fury. It’s also rare that the same individual reads or responds to anything I’ve written. It’s a mountain of racism and bureaucratic bullshit I’m facing.
The number of hoops to jump through is astonishing. I’ve decided to break my silence about the abuse I’ve endured. I’m going to fight as if my life depends on it. (It does.) Fortunately, my education and military service taught me a great deal about how to get results from people who would prefer I crawl back under the rock and rot. I won’t.
While I anticipate I’m facing an epic battle, it shouldn’t be this way. There are no excuses for this treatment by the VA. I’ve done my research, acquired legal counsel, and am as ready as I’ll ever be to fight until my pigmentation level and lack of a penis cease to prevent me from being recognized as a human being at the VA. I’m so disgusted and traumatized by what I’ve endured. I can’t even drive past the VA hospital without having a panic attack.
While not everyone at the Sioux Falls VA is vile and dishonorable, those who are have made it a nightmare. I’m genuinely astonished by the lack of professionalism and decency I’ve witnessed in multiple areas of the hospital. I don’t want to be another veteran suicide statistic, of course. However, the mistreatment has repeatedly increased the likelihood immensely.
The irony is a bitter pill to swallow. Even the medication bottles have stickers to remind veterans to reach out to the VA instead of killing yourself. They’re proudly displayed all over the place, but none of them inform veterans it could be that very action that pushes them over the edge. None of them warn of the fact that the VA’s concept of treatment varies tremendously by skin color, gender, and whether or not your provider likes you.
I’ve endured while my PTSD symptoms have worsened and my life has become a shell of what it could be with proper care. I’ve cowered and raged over the unfairness. My mind replays each event whenever I attempt to sleep. Often I end up weeping and give up trying to sleep until so exhausted I can’t prevent it. Then I’m unable to awaken myself when the nightmares overwhelm. I’ve forgotten how well-rested feels.
I’ve kept extensive written accounts of each incident, and plan on being very public and open about everything. I have no qualms about naming people who’ve mistreated me. I’ve begun my thesis on racism in the VA and already have interested publishers. In the light, it will all come out. I disclosed my plan to Patient Care Advocacy to utilize recording apparatus whenever I enter the building. (I’ve done so in the past to keep accurate, provable records.) Beneath the trauma, I’m still a fierce warrior who understands war. It’s on like Donkey Kong.