I love this country with a ‘moocher’s’ passion

To the Editor:

I served as a combat medic from 2002 to 2006 in the US Army. I have numerous other family members who also served, brothers, uncles, parents, grandparents, and cousins are just a few. I was a participant in the House’s Wounded Warrior Program and served a fellowship with Speaker Boehner where I assisted veterans and helped them navigate the VA system. Now, I am the president of the Miami Valley Veterans Museum. Needless to say, I believe I know what a veteran is and what it is like to serve and have several years of experience with it.

Recently, Rep. Warren Davidson made remarks to a group of veterans in Butler county that I find not only offensive but borders on the edge of sanity. Veterans are not “moochers” as Davidson referenced us. We are the men and women who swore an oath to our nation to uphold the Constitution and defend our freedoms at the cost of our lives if necessary. Unfortunately, not all of us returned from the battlefield unscathed.

There isn’t an argument that the VA healthcare system is failing. Budget overruns, long waits, mediocracy of attitude — it is all writing on the wall that our government is not doing enough to change the course. However, by pushing the blame to the American veteran is not right and will never be acceptable to me or other veterans.

I recorded an oral history of a Vietnam veteran that shared his experience returning home from war and Davidson’s remarks reminded of that interview. He was not welcomed with open arms and ticker tape parades. He was taunted, spit on, and ridiculed. Davidson’s remarks seem to reignite an underlying distaste for veterans and undercuts their service to our nation. Veterans do not choose where to fight, politicians like Mr. Davidson do.

I have heard from countless veterans who are suffering in silence from service-related conditions that won’t seek treatment from the VA in fear that they will take away from someone who needs it more. Davidson’s remarks will not help those veterans but further alienate them from seeking treatment and care because of a reinforced fear they will be considered a “moocher.”

In closing I would like to say, veterans have sacrificed so much for our nation since its birth and have earned in blood, sweat, and tears access to healthcare to support conditions resulting from their service. Mr. Davidson says, “I love this country with a soldier’s passion.” I am just wondering what soldier blames his battle buddy?

— Tristan Weis