Most of you who read my posts and articles, or who have read my book “Off Switch,” know that I live in the Philippine Islands. After banging my head against the wall for two years after my deployment to Iraq and my lengthy hospital stay at Madigan Medical Center being treated for injuries I incurred while in Iraq, I finally stopped banging my head and read the writing on said wall. What it said was, to summarize, “You are a 60% disabled combat veteran competing in an already ailing job market against fully fit- both physically and mentally- people, many of whom out qualify you in the private sector anyway.”
During this two year period, I’d been visiting the islands, and that little voice in my head that we all have (I think we call it the voice of reason, you know, the one we’re trained not to listen to?) kept saying, “Dude! You get just over a grand in tax free VA disability money each month. That converts to more than 40,000 pesos in the Philippines and is more than their educated professionals make! You can live like a middle class American there, and focus on your writing, which is where your heart truly lies, or you can keep going back to America, living with your parents at almost forty, get new prescriptions every time you visit the VA (remember, you’re up to seven now), and slowly, but surely, die.”
Needless to say, I finally listened to that little voice, and I’m happier now than I’ve been since before the war. During my time in service, I lost my family, all of my money, and my physical and mental health. In the past couple of years here in the islands, I’ve found a true soul mate who’s given me a beautiful son. I’ve kicked the addictions that all of those wonderful pills handed out to me like candy at Madigan Medical Center and the VA hospital led to. I write at a feverish pitch, and have decided to use my experiences to benefit my fellow veterans in any way that I can though the written word.
And this is one of those attempts.
Yesterday, I logged onto my online bank account to make sure that my VA disability check had been deposited. My heart skipped several beats when I saw red and a negative balance, beside which read the word “hold.”
Read the rest of the article at JOEFORAMERICA.COM