This weekend we again have an opportunity to remember those who protect our freedoms, many times at the expense of their lives or severe injuries. In honor of those who serve, I'll ask you again to help me support The Wounded Warrior Project. All of my royalties from the sale of Once a Soldier benefit the project. Here is another short except from the story, which is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Muse It Up Publishing, as well as other fine online retailers.
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“As reassuring as such visits and information was I imagine you felt a little overwhelmed. How did you sort it all out?” Marco waited for the answer. The programs and assistance the VA offers are great—and I won’t need them …I hope, but Larry can tell me what I need to know before it comes to decision time.
“Oh, yeah, big time. Everyday someone came to give me information about benefits, entitlements, and health care. Overwhelming amounts of information yeah, but you know what was most impressive. I always received an answer to my questions. They had a simple and effective way of passing the information to me so I understood it. When I left the hospital, I knew what to do and where to begin after I returned home to Colorado.” He broke off his recital and rose awkwardly to help Marco shift his position on the bed. “Is there anything I can get you, sir, water or…”
“Thanks, Larry, I’m good, and my name is Marco. You’re retired now and we’re both Norwich grads so there isn’t any need to address me by my rank. I don’t know yet what’s going to happen so the information you have is good to hear. I know I’ll walk again, but at this point, the docs won’t give me an opinion about the chances for regaining one hundred percent mobility.”
“Well, ah …Marco, the process for most of the benefits and entitlements starts right here at Reed. The VA process is quick and effective, but I'll warn you, the medical boarding procedure will drive you nuts. Mine took awhile, not a big issue for me as I don’t have a wife or kids, but sitting around my parents’ house waiting for the process to work, well, it really tried my patience. After everything settled down, the VA offered me this job so I came back to the East Coast. I’m in the Vet IT program at the regional VA office here in DC. This program offers returning disabled Vets the opportunity at the hard-to-get GS positions within the VA IT office. This program and the vocational rehab offer many more opportunities than you could imagine.”
“Good information to know. I’m happy you’ve settled into a career path and have the opportunity. We’re the lucky ones, Larry. The real heroes—”
“Yeah, I know. I lost a couple of classmates.” He fell silent as both men remembered those brothers and sisters in arms who had fallen to the enemy. “Well, I’d better let you rest. I’ll leave my card. Call me if you need anything…and I don’t mean in the professional sense. I’ll be happy to run errands or whatever you need.”
“Thanks, I appreciate it. My sister is here, but there are some things…” Marco broke off and shrugged. The younger man snapped off a smart salute and then waved as he left the room.