Buenos dias amigo Karl, “There but for the grace of God go I.”
This is what this letter is about: my many trips to the VA hospital, mostly because of my tour of duty to Vietnam 42 years ago.
I have a basketful of illnesses: blood disorders or diseases, all depending on what doctor or which day and machine doing the pictures, study, extraction or injection, camera here, camera there, biopsy here, biopsy there.
But all is well — you know why? At the VA hospital, there is always someone in more pain or severe injury, my pobresito brothers. It is heartbreaking to see the ones who have lost limbs, or both legs, and one hopping on artificial legs with a spring mechanism for feet. We are fortunate these days with the technology and medicine available to us, and blessed to have doctors and staff who are knowledgeable to save lives, especially with extreme odds of survival in some cases. Go there some day just to observe; not just the first floor, go to all floors, peek in rooms.
You will see men, and women, too, missing a foot, wrapped in bandages. You will see a man with no arms and no feet, a man with eyes that do not see, a man with ears that cannot hear, a man with a mouth that cannot chew, cannot speak. Sometimes I wonder, Is it about God or is it just luck?
I blame a lot of my problems on Agent Orange, a chemical our government aerial sprayed in Vietnam. The chemicals were for defoliation or deforestation so U.S. soldiers could better spot the enemy coming from the north. Well, Agent Orange worked very well, probably because of the large amounts used. In fact it worked so well that 40 and 50 years later, many of us soldiers are dying from it! I myself have two blood disorders to deal with, a liver disease, my kidneys and spleen and prostate all give me problems. Every other week, I go to the hospital for a 500cc blood draw; every three to six months, I go for CAT scans of the abdomen. I’m also having to see a shrink, and they give me some “Be nice to Maryann pills.” Depression, anger, anxiety and chronic pain are not easy to live with. “Gracias a Dios yo estoy vivo y tu?” “Thanks to God I’m alive, and you?”
My biggest health issue is a recurring broken heart.
The men that I helped put into body bags in Vietnam, pobresito hermanitos (poor brothers) — can you imagine the pain of their parents, their brothers and sisters, their wives, their children? That is so heartbreaking. I feel their pain and also the ones from all wars, and I cried for the ones that jerk killed at Fort Hood. A broken heart is the worst injury of all: you cannot sleep, sometimes not eat, not think, not express true love feelings, and even worse, you make the ones you love the very most suffer along with you. Life can be most challenging, no doubt. I am blessed with a wonderful wife, blessed to have lived in Pagosa Country for 64 years, blessed that the Porfirio Corna family is a tight, loving family.
In closing, God bless all my friends and everyone else. I wish all happiness and good luck in the new year, and love, love, love, give everyone your love. You cannot give it all away and you will never run out!
Reference Pagosa SUN, Dec. 24, 2009. USFS proposed changes to pass discount policy.
This article is requesting comments to U.S. Forest Service, to voice your word on the golden age pass, which now has a 50-percent discount for pass holders. Changes could occur, i.e. reduced to 10 percent, or who knows what?
Please contact the USFS if you would like to continue with your current golden age pass.
Contacts: www.regulations.gov (search for notice ID FS-2009-0001); or U.S. Forest Service, attention: Carolyn Holbrook, Recreation and Heritage Resource staff, 1400 Independence Ave., SW Stop 1125 Washington D.C. 20250-1125.
Star and cross
It has come to my attention that Mike Alley is to be thanked for the fact that the lights of both the star and cross are shining brightly this holiday season.
Thank you, Mike, for making it possible for all of us to enjoy this special tradition of Pagosa, which is so beautiful, and in the true spirit of Christmas.
There are two interesting sequels to the blame Bush and anti-war issues. First, 44 percent of the American public would rather have Bush back in office than Obama, whose rating has plunged to a point lower than any president in modern history (since records were kept) after one year in office. Secondly, support for the Afghanistan war rose 12 points to over 60 percent. Approval of Obama’s handling of the war rose six points to 48 percent after his war-is-necessary-for-peace speech in Oslo and his agreement, finally, to send 33,000 more troops to Afghanistan. Concerning the level of troops, in a December national poll, 62 percent said yes, we need more troops to win the war, and an additional 21 percent said the president should give his generals what they ask for. Only 12 percent favored withdrawing our troops.
Then, despite the fact that public support for the Senate health care bill dropped 21 points in one month to 61 percent, as opposed to 36 percent in favor, the Senate passed it. Thus, the senate paid no attention to the constituents they are supposed to serve, but did what they wanted. McConnell stated in a television interview that the “bill is a train wreck of historic proportions” and”“slashes hundreds of billions from Medicare.” Senior citizens will suffer, as will nursing homes, hostels and other groups and individuals. Moreover, Medicare premiums will increase $285.60 for two years. Furthermore, 68 percent of small businesses wanted tort reform included in any health bill, but the urgent request was ignored by the Senate.
Concerning party developments in general, due to the overwhelming popular uprising against Congress, which has its lowest rating ever, it is most interesting to note that the new Tea Party is generating more support (41 percent) than either the Democratic or Republican Party. Bill Bennett, the former education secretary and founder of the most successful K-12 home schooling program, predicts that the Democrats will lose both the House and Senate majorities in the 2010 elections because of “bad behavior.” One example is that while voting not to give us a Social Security cost of living (COLA) increase in 2010 and 2011, the House and Senate members gave themselves $4,700 and $5,300 raises, respectively. Each member will receive just under $200,000 per year.
Finally, concerning presidential cabinet appointees, the members selected by the last 18 presidents averaged 46 percent with private sector experience. Obama’s appointees average eight percent.