I’ve mentioned before that my dad is a Vietnam Vet. He’s also in poor health. A good amount of the medical attention he receives comes from Veterans Affairs hospitals and doctors. I grew up taking trips to these hospitals with him, hanging out in gift shops and waiting rooms and cafeterias while he had tests done and blood drawn. Because of where we lived, the hospitals were usually a few hours away, and going with Dad to the doctor was just an excuse to hang out with him and finagle a trip to the mall out of him after. (Hey, if you want me to go to the hospital, I expect a reward. Hospitals freak me the fuck out.) They always treated my father well, though, and everyone I came into contact with was pleasant and helpful.
Although my father is well taken care of now, when he came back from Vietnam, it was another story. My father suffered from PTSD, and in the late ’60s and early ’70s, that wasn’t something people talked about. Vietnam Vets were shunned because they were fighting a war most civilians didn’t believe in, and getting treated for a mental health issue was something shameful and embarrassing. And lest you think PTSD was hard to get treated for, my father was also sprayed with Agent Orange, and may or may not have health problems related to Agent Orange poisoning. (I say may or may not because in the past 40 years, the government has flip-flopped on whether US soldiers were affected, and depending on the day and the doctor, my father is or is not one of these soldiers. Confused yet?)
The point of all this is to say that how veterans are treated, medically, has been one of the most important issues in my life, and I’ve followed it closely. Last year I wrote about a potential cost increase for a specific military insurance plan, and part of the discussion about the fee hike related to the Veterans Affairs hospital system. When the proposal was first announced, not a lot of people were talking about how Tricare and the VA system were related and how they played off each other, but that was my first thought. If veterans can’t afford Tricare, which operates like a standard civilian insurance plan, more of them may need to turn to the VA for care. The famously backlogged VA. Doing interviews for my article, I asked about the connection, and I remember people being surprised that I was bringing it up. No one expects the civilian pornographer to know these things, I suppose. But when you grow up hearing something enough, it kind of sticks.
To read my article, “Health-Care Scare,” which appeared in the May 2011 issue of Penthouse, click here.