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By Christopher Boits
On October 7, 2001 the United States went into Afghanistan and on March 20, 2003 the U.S. went into Iraq. Over the course of our stay in these two countries over 1.6 million veterans served in these theaters of war. These veterans who all gave a part of their life in defense of our nation now return home from the battlefield to engage in another form of warfare. It is a warfare that many of them receive little to no training on while immersed in this country’s great military.
This war is the knowledge they must gain in order to find the appropriate services to treat their physical and mental illnesses gained while in defense of our country. These men and woman are leaving the military with many undiagnosed illnesses and a lack of understanding on what to do to treat themselves. Over 20 military members are committing suicide a day according to the Veterans Administration.
I am a Marine Corps veterans that served four years for this country from 2004-2008 and completed two combat deployments to Iraq. I have seen first-hand the horrors and triumph in war and those same horrors and triumphs when dealing with our current healthcare system at the VA.
The current wait times for veterans to receive health care are too long. Once discharged, service members need to educate themselves on the VA process to minimize wait times for themselves. With the passing of the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014 by President Obama veterans now have greater options to receive healthcare outside of the VA by non-VA physicians and still be covered.
If you are reading this and you do not know what this act entails then you are already behind in your knowledge of the VA and how to take advantage of services for yourself or a loved one.
Remember that military veterans once served this country so those who cannot or choose not to serve can live with the freedoms we all enjoy every day. To all military members active and reserve, I say to you that your greatest battle has not yet been completed and urge all to take advantage of the care this country has to offer their veterans. If we do not use this coverage then it will go away. We must create a need and demand for funding by using the VA healthcare system as much as possible. Semper Fi.
Christopher Boits is a Marine Corps veteran who achieved the rank of Sargent while serving for four years. He received his BA in the Sociology of Criminal Justice at Cal State San Marcos and is currently an MSW student at the University of Southern California and planning on a career at the VA after graduation to continue to serve and help the veteran population for as long as he can.
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