Memorial Day—Appreciation Isn’t Enough
This is a weekend of remembrance and appreciation for those who gave their lives for their country and in a very real way, us. But it’s not enough. Not when there are stories like being repeated far too often across the country.
Edward Passetto, a former Marine Corps sergeant from Lee, Mass., killed himself at Monument Mountain in Great Barrington, Mass.
Passetto, 28, heroically saved others from the smoldering ruins of a helicopter crash in Afghanistan in 2009, but later struggled with post-traumatic stress, his mother, Patricia Passetto, said in an interview Friday.
Passetto came home to western Massachusetts in 2011 after a medical discharge from the Marines. He was disturbed by his memories from the crash, his mother said. He applied for disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs starting in 2011. In the weeks before his death, the VA informed him his claim would not processed until at least 2015, Patricia Passetto said.
The financially drained veteran wrote an open letter to President Obama in the days before his death, saying his two-year struggle for benefits made him “feel as if I am abandoned by my own country.” He was laid to rest near his father, an Army veteran, in Lee, Mass.
What? 3-4 YEARS to have a claim even considered? We won World War II in less time than the VA now takes to process claims? How is this even remotely possible?
And no, it’s not Obama. Don’t make this political. Screwing veterans is literally older than the republic itself.
This is on us, each and everyone us individually and collectively. The famous “We the People” we all like to talk about are responsible for this. Government isn’t some alien thing imposed from outer-space; it’s a tool we’ve created to do certain things. Ensuring that the tool is working correctly is our responsibility. And it’s about time we act like it. This tool is not working for veterans and in many ways, it never has. That needs to change.
Better men and women than us have tried and are trying to change this for years. They haven’t failed, they’ve simply laid the ground work for ultimate success. It’s time we take up the challenge and finish the job.
I don’t know why this has me so pissed right now but it does. I mean, I’ve seen news stories about the backlog and heard about it the American Legion convention last year. But suddenly this seems like a cause worth taking up.
I don’t know what if anything can be done about this. I want to talk to some people who know a lot more about these problems than I do. If there’s something that can be done, I’ll be back to you guys for help. My guess is it’s going to take a lot of people to get really angry about the way our veterans are being treated.
Take a moment to remember Edward Passetto this weekend. When others needed help, he ran to them.
Passetto said he ran to the top of the berm and looked over to see a burning Russian MI-8 helicopter in total ruin.
“I saw a person off to my left, and I ran down there and found another man in a green flight suit. There were five crew members altogether. Three had fallen out the front of the Russian MI8.
“I was assisting the guy in the green flight suit, and he was really jacked up. His feet, you could tell, they were mangled and you could see rips in his flesh and blood.”
Being a Marine, Passetto jumped right into action, even though he only had the use of one arm.
“We knew we had to get them out of there, so I hooked him with one arm because my other arm was in a sling.
“I had a crushed nerve in my elbow, and all I could do is grip him under his armpit with my good arm and drag him back. After I got him out, I turned around and I saw another guy next to the helicopter on the ground in pretty much the same condition, but he wasn’t moving.”
With one arm, and running through a hailstorm of fire and flying metal scraps exploding off of the helicopter, Passetto ignored the danger to his own life.
“The fire was right next to him not even five feet away,” he said. “So we ran up to him and started dragging him back. I got him about 15 to 20 feet and then another guy who was helping pushed me off because he realized I had a messed-up arm, but I told him, ‘No-no-no, I got it. I’ll help you out.'”
“I got it. I’ll help you out”. It’s long overdue that we do the same.