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Me and the VA
By Leon Wengrzyn
1982. Deep in the jungles of Central America. I was sick. No energy to work the homestead. I walked to the road, caught a bus to the capital. A nurse did some tests. Told me I was severely low of blood. Hemoglobin 5. I needed transfusions right away. No blood bank in this country. I begged two pints from volunteers. Needed three more. No hay. Got on a plane to the States. Had time to think. I'm a Vietnam vet. I need help. Bingo. Go to the VA for the first time. What would they say? You were in the war we lost? We only help recent war vets? Go die somewhere else?
Local bus got me to the door of the VA hospital in Milwaukee at midnight. Hallelujah, they let me in.
Stayed a month. They saved my life.
Sure it was a mystery where my blood went. I found the hazmat suits they wore on rounds pretty funny. Maybe I am contagious. They did tests. Then more tests and more of them. I didn't like the tube up my nose into my stomach but then it was necessary for the diagnosis. Bleeding hemorrhoids. Consider it the cost of shitting in an outhouse.
Hallelujah, the hazmat suits come off. People are friendly. I get two surgeries. I'm treated like a human being. I have nothing but good to say about the Veterans Administration. It is the way America should be.
Postscript: I went back to the homestead much happier and with my shit together.
Leon Wengrzyn was an E3 in Dong Ha. He now lives in Belize.