By Michael Saunders
I came across an unsettling news article online that I first thought may have been “fake news,” but if true was certainly representative of how the VA in general has failed on its mission. If you’ve paid attention to the news in recent years, you’ve probably heard some of the horror stories about veterans, waiting to get care through the VA, dying from physical and mental illnesses. In 2015, the VA admitted that over 307,000 veterans had died while waiting for the VA to process their enrollment application (Cohen, 2019). Further, the VA has also been the subject of several class action suits over the years, due to their negligence.
The story I found disturbing is about a man named Jerry. Jerry Holliman is a 69-year-old man from Mississippi. He is a combat veteran who served in Vietnam, and in Iraq during the first Gulf war. Jerry lost his legs in the course of battle. Faced with an extremely difficult choice, Jerry decided he wanted to be able to walk instead of being bound to a wheelchair, so he opted to receive prosthetic legs. He paid a copay for a set of prosthetic legs and was told that the VA would cover the rest of the cost. He obtained the prosthetic legs through a company called Hanger, believing what he was told by the VA.
The legs Jerry received to replace the ones he lost for America, were repossessed by Hanger, because the VA would not in fact cover the cost of his legs. To make matters more disturbing, the legs were repossessed, essentially made unusable and returned to Jerry. Jerry, he lives on a fixed income below the poverty level, while the Hanger Clinic brings in almost 1 billion a year in annual revenues; however, they felt the need to repossess this veteran’s legs.
When Jerry was told to seek approval for his prosthetic legs through Medicare his response was "Medicare did not send me to Vietnam," Holliman told the newspaper. "I was sent there by my country... with the understanding that if something bad happened to me, that it would be covered by the VA." Jerry was also exposed to agent orange and received two Bronze Star Medals for his service (Dorman, 2020). This story was picked up and covered on several media outlets to include Fox News.
Given all that is asked of our men and women in the armed forces, you’d think that as a culture we’d strive to get this right for this population of citizens. However, time and time again, our government has failed to provide appropriate services to the folks, for which the government should bend over backward to serve, who’ve given up so much for our personal freedoms.
To show our appreciation for veterans, we provide a 10% discount to veterans on every purchase they make through Soylent Greens. For our sister company, the Medical Cannabis Proliferation Institute (MCPI), we are in search of combat veterans who want to share their stories of healing through cannabis use on our Podcast, Greenspeak. If you’d like to be a guest on Greenspeak, contact Michael at 207-518-0408. Thanks to all our veterans for your service to our country.