This is an excerpt from an article in the July/August 2003 VAnguard (VA's Employee Magazine), entitled “With Dignity and Respect, Combat-wounded troops from Operation Iraqi Freedom are recovering at VA medical facilities.”
VA has a special agreement with the Department of Defense to take care of some of the troops who were injured.
Marine Corps Sgt. Jason Whittling, 29, broke his neck in Iraq when his Humvee rolled over. He was urged to come to VA for care. Whittling is getting care at the San Diego VA Healthcare System. Whittling had this to say, “If you get a spinal cord injury, this is the place to come. They treat you with dignity and respect.”
Army St. James Oscar Sides, 30, is recovering from brain injuries at the Tampa, Florida, James A. Haley Veterans Hospital. He was wounded when his Black Hawk helicopter crashed in Iraq. Tampa is one of the four VA brain injury centers. When he first arrived at the hospital, he could not walk; now he can walk by himself.
Pfc. Danny Roberts, 26, an Army reservist stepped on a land mine outside of Baghdad, Iraq. He lost most of his left foot. He says, “The VA has been really, really cool.” Roberts was treated at the Milwaukee VA and now goes to a VA Clinic close to his home for follow-up care. VA is making him a prosthetic foot.
Army Sgt. Kenneth K. Dixon, 35, broke his spine in an accident. His Bradley Fighting Vehicle went down a ridge. “My wife and I did a lot of research and everybody told us this was the best place on the East Coast, here at the VA in Richmond, “ After several weeks of VA therapy, he could get dressed and in and out of bed by himself.
Dr. Steven Scott, chief of rehabilitation medicine at the Tampa VA, sums up what VA is all about. “They gave us our freedom and now we’re going to give it back to them.”