Veterans Administration Dedication Rarely Mentioned
Thanks for reminding us Jim, as always, of those out there doing the good work for our veterans - standingup
Many of us, especially Veterans who are Advocates for our brothers and sisters and those Civilians who join that advocacy, have been writing about the Veterans Administration and especially Veterans Care, which in these times of conflicts also encompass the Military Care system as well. With this technology we can push our advocacy untill it's paid the attention it should already have by those who do the job of reporting as a profession. And because of the extreme lack of oversight and concern by the representatives we hire, as the drums of war were first pounding and the years following, we find breaking stories far to often in these last months. Months that have brought out the problems with the care, the overwelming numbers needing care and being denied for months or just denied, the living conditions of those receiving the care and even serving, and so much more.
When we write about the needs or the lack oversight and funds we far to often, myself included though I try and remember in my rage, leave out the facts of the true dedication of the workers in the VA System. The workers, who like most of us working stiffs, give their all to the jobs and professions they perform and have to deal with what's lacking from the administrations, top on down, of these agencies. In the government that administration starts with the Executive Branch, the Congress, the Political Appointee's to head and the Political Appointee's they bring in, and Especially to the Governed, Us, who fight the costs needed or follow political ideology leadership if not wanted.
Every once in awhile a report will surface of that dedication within:
Drea Horton tends to America’s war wounded during the day and writes about them at night.
Like in the poem she wrote about "a young Joe" who cried in her arms in the Louis B. Stokes Veterans Administration Medical Center in Brecksville, Ohio, where she works:
"Anxiety and nightmares take turns taunting him
Scattered sand and ghosts visit almost every day
Substance abuse, PTSD; the diagnosis given to him
He cried as he told me this. He said do they know?"
The poem is included in Horton’s second book, "Her Stars and Stripes: A nurse's diary", published by Author House. It’s full of prayers and thoughts for the men and women who pass through those VA hospital halls where she has toiled for the past 10 years. Horton, 45, says she has been taking care of others since she was 7 years old and going to work with her mother, who was a nursing assistant.
"She had three girls," Horton said during a phone interview from her Akron, Ohio, home. "All of us are nurses now."
Nursing can be a frustrating life, she said, especially in VA hospitals.
"We have a lot of homeless veterans here," she said. "They came back from the war, got discharged and then couldn’t find a job. We patch them up, get them a place to live and do everything we can to get them back on their feet.
"But just a small percentage actually make it."
Like the Vietnam veteran who flagged her down for a ride to the hospital one day:
"On my way to work I stopped at a traffic light
There stood a man on the corner to the right
He was pushing a buggy full of his belongings
Looking for what I thought were cans …"
The vet needed a ride to the VA medical center. "In his travels he had injured his right hand," Horton wrote. She took him to the emergency room and handed him over to an on-duty nurse.
"He winked and smiled weakly at me
With all that pain in his hand
Thank you nurse, he said
For not passing me by like the others."
The book of poetry reads like a diary. It’s an accounting of the battlefield heroes who awaken in the middle of the night screaming at shadows and the men and women who care for them while trying to not get too close, too personal, lest they begin to share in their suffering.
"My heart bleeds
For my patients and their families
I store those memories in my heart …
Drying their tears;
While we cry only in our hearts."
Horton said she has self-published one other book of poetry and has several other manuscripts, including a novel, in the works. But "Her Stars and Stripes" was not planned.
"It just happened," she said. "I started writing a poem about the bond formed between a nurse and a wounded soldier and suddenly saw I had 11 poems completed about these heroes."
Horton said she wanted to give human faces to the veterans and the people who care for them.
"We read in the papers about someone being wounded and then never hear about them again. This book is about what happens next," she said. "We nurses become their mothers, their sisters, their families. When they’re crying, we’re there holding and rocking them.
"We’re not supposed to cry. We were taught in school not to cry, to be their stoic helpmates. But sometimes you just can’t hold it in."
Horton said she’s been writing since age 11, but abandoned the craft while she embarked upon a career of nursing, married and raised two daughters and a son.
Now, with her children grown and the marriage ended, she has picked up her pen and returned to her first love — writing.
"Finally I am able to tell it as I see it
Forever now I can sing my own song …
I’m happy for my missing piece that suddenly awakened
Look as I stretch and spread my wings."
The book is available at most major online bookstores and from her Web site at Drea Horton.
Reviews at her site and I'm sure she'd be willing to add yours.
Publisher AuthorHouse is at Author House.