They call us heroes but to us they are our heroes: The Marathon Weekly, The Free Press, The Key West Blue Paper, The Big Pine Barometer, Pirate Radio, Commissioner George Nugent and Congressman Joe Garcia.
Each came to our defense when one of only two Doctors at the Key West VA clinic retired. The Miami VA said no to a replacement. That meant one Doctor between Key West and Key Largo.
Now two to three months to get a visit in season. No sick walk in visits. I walked into the clinic sick. I had never done that before but I was sick. I was turned away after hearing the story from a staff member who was in tears.
I went home and wrote a letter to the editor, something else I had never done before. It was like magic. The Weekly & the Barometer published it. Bob Silk at the Free Press interviewed veterans who were waiting months for a VA Doctor visit & published it. Naja at the Blue Paper looked into it and got right on Congressman Joe Garcia. My friend Annie Miners with Pirate Radio went to management with the story. Pirate Radio had the Congressman Joe Garcia on air this past Veterans day to see what he was going to do about our vets. Commissioner George Neugent called, said he had talked to our Congressman about the problem. George said he worked a lot with Joe Garcia & the Congressman would fix it. I says fat chance, the man is a democrat. George said trust me. Garcia has a thing for veterans. I says we vets are one percent of the people and only one percent of our one percent ever voted for a democrat. We got no money for any reelection, we got no money for lobbyist. We veterans are invisible and we are toast. Mr. Bill says George, trust me.
George was right. Congressman Joe Garcia went to the Director of the Miami VA and came out with Doctor & staff in tow. The Congressman then had a meeting with the Sectary of the Navy, Joe told the Sectary that the VA clinic in Key West was in a Navy hospital & because in season even with two Doctors, sick walk in vets could be turned away, so could the Navy put up a Navy Doctor if it came down to it? The Sectary said done.
We vets are thankful to each & everyone of you who focused your power to help veterans who are powerless.
For a politician in today’s world to work so hard to help a people that could do so little for him. I would choose a word other than a hero. I would call Joe Garcia a leader.