I write this in the lobby of the VA hospital on Green Street in Baltimore.
I found out last week, rather suddenly, that my surgery date had been set, and then moved up. Today is the day. This is a great thing; I can’t wait to be able to hike, walk normally, and maybe even go for a jog. I am sick of decrepit. That was SO 2011. 😉
This means I will have the opportunity to be fit to hike the C&O in November. Honestly, up until now, I was worried that I would be 50 before I had the chance to hike again.
So please wish me luck. I’ve never had more involved surgery than stitches or a root canal, and I am strangely anxious. I don’t get anxious about ANYTHING, either. If you know me in person, you know I have that Marine trait of laughing at nearly everything. Well I am not sure how I like the idea of anesthesia. Anyway, wish me luck, pray for me, or, if you can, come up with a good joke. It feels wierd not to laugh.
One final note, and this is something that I want to make sure to share with you all now.
I often get people telling me, in the context of discussing helping wounded vets, that they are outraged that the government doesn’t do more. I often hear sentiments like “These wounded vets should have the best, on the goverment.” or the like.
I don’t fault the sentiment, people, but I do have two points to make.
1) The US Veterans Adminsitration is unmatched in the world, probably in the history of the world, in the level of care and support it provides to veterans, wounded or otherwise. Seriously, the VA might have some bureaucratic shortfalls, but it is simply the finest organization of it’s type in the world. It fulfills the nation’s obligation to it’s veterans, in spades.
2) Veterans didn’t volunteer for the benefits, and if they did, they got what they paid for. The citizen soldier is the embodiment of the democratic ideal. I, and my brethren, volunteered to serve the nation. Some of us may not have fully understood what it was we were getting into, but we all, instictively, understand the ideal. That leads me to the corallary to this. If you think that volunteering like that is noble, and want to see these wounded vets get more than the VA can give, do something about it. It is YOUR personal responsibility to act on those feelings. Too often the debt we owe veterans seems distant and impersonal. Come visit the VA hospital if you need any reminder of what we gave you. All I ask from you in return for the infitessimal increment of your personal freedom that I am personally responsible for is that you exercise it, peacefully, and with the betterment of the nation in mind.
I, Terry Mahoney, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.