Julie Seedorf: Take the time to thank a veteran this week

Published 9:29 am Monday, November 7, 2016

This past week my husband and I visited the Veterans Affairs clinic in Minneapolis. Since the elections are tomorrow and this is also the week we celebrate our veterans, it might be fitting to write about our experience with the Veterans Affairs and the clinics and health care.

We have all heard the horrifying stories of the terrible health care and experiences people have had with the VA. But I am here to tell you our experience and they are all positive experiences.

My husband didn’t get hooked up with the VA system until somewhere in the last 10 years. We had an excellent Veterans Affairs officer both in Fairmont and Blue Earth that got the ball rolling for us. It didn’t take long, and my husband was in the system and the benefits were available to him. He is a Vietnam veteran and it had been hard for him to ask for help because of the stigma of the war. It was something he never talked about.

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He was a patient at the VA clinic in Mankato and then transferred to the Albert Lea VA clinic when it opened because it was closer to home. We have always been amazed at the care of both places, the ease of getting an appointment and the excellent staff at both clinics.

The veteran’s clinic and hospital in Minneapolis is amazing. They make it very easy to navigate and find your way around with all the volunteers they have to help those veterans who come though their doors.

We had an appointment for a scan at 10:45 a.m. We were early and we checked in. We walked out of the doors of the clinic at 10:46 a.m. — and they had told us they were behind schedule. That is another thing we have found. If he has an appointment, the wait is longer to get a table in a restaurant than it is to see the doctor. This has been our experience.

This time at the Minneapolis clinic I met another friend. Her husband, too, was there for a scan. I always meet friendly and interesting people on my visits there. I learned about her family and she learned about mine. We shared experiences, and we exchanged names and business cards to keep in touch. I suspect many other peoples’ lives touch at these facilities because they have a bond of a veteran.

It is awe-inspiring to see so many veterans in one place, different ages and in different situations healthwise. These men and women served our country. These men and women fought for our freedom. These men and women deserve our thanks and respect. These men and women all have lasting effects for their dedication to make our lives better.

The staff at these veterans facilities also deserve our thanks and respect. They work day after day to make the lives of our veterans better and also the lives of the families of those veterans.

Does the system have flaws? Of course it does because it is run by human beings, and we are a flawed creation. The media spends a great deal of time focusing on those flaws,  but I would guess there are more heart and success stories than there are horror stories. We need to focus on the good these facilities, built for our veterans, do for all of those involved.

It is Veterans Day on Friday. Thank a veteran. Thank those also who work to serve veterans. Freedom isn’t free and freedom wasn’t meant to be abused. A veteran protects and serves so those rights can be preserved.

When the peace treaty is signed, the war isn’t over for the veterans or the family. It’s just starting. — Karl Marlantes

Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send email to her at hermionyvidaliabooks@gmail.com.