A Veteran’s Affair: How Dealing With the VA is Like Dating a Douchebag
Guest Post by Artist & Veteran Emily Yates
After nearly 15 continuous years of war, you’d think more Americans would be aware of the ordeal veterans go through to get the benefits promised to us by the military. Unfortunately, because only one percent (roughly) of Americans serve in the military at any given time, there’s a massive cognitive disconnect between veterans and, as we lovingly call the rest of the population, civilians. But there is hope for us yet to bridge the communication divide.
What is the Department of Veterans Affairs to a veteran? It’s a relationship – with the douchiest person we’ve ever dated. And who has dated a douchey person? *Peers out at sea of raised hands* So, maybe it’s time for us veterans to start referring to the VA in more relatable terms – let’s say, as that douchebag we’ve all gone out with. There are, after all, striking similarities.
They never call first.
One of the first ways to spot a cunning douchebag, if you haven’t figured it out on a date yet, is that they won’t call you first. They just won’t. They’ll always wait for you to call them, and even then they’ll let it go to voicemail. Eventually, they might call you back. Next time you see them, they act like nothing’s wrong. The douche might text you – not so with the VA. They’ll wait an eternity to establish a relationship with veterans. Perhaps the VA is playing hard-to-get, but my theory is that it’s not playing – just like a douchebag, the administration doesn’t want to have to spend any money on us. If they don’t call us first, they might not have to. Either way, once contact is made, they’e only interested in us when we’re standing right in front of them, while trying to keep the relationship as distant as possible. Which is why
They call you by the wrong name sometimes.
Like a dishonest douchebag who’s been seeing other people behind your back, the VA does not remember your name. Unlike the Department of Defense, which, like an abusive ex, will remember your name forever or until you need something from it, the VA is not worried about recalling who you are. My local VA, where I’d hand-delivered name-change paperwork after getting married, was calling me by my old name four years later. I’ve come to expect this because both the VA and the douchebags I’ve dated inspire equally unshakeable cynicism in me.
They unapologetically cancel or no-show on dates.
You’re all ready to go out – maybe even out the door already – and then you get the text: “so sry can’t make it 🙁 ” or some other equally eloquent prose, lighting up your phone like a bright red flag. Maybe they don’t even bother to text. If they’re more like the VA than even I could have predicted, they try to convince you it was you who canceled the date all along. The difference is that when a douche ditches on the date, you can at least be assured you’re probably better off without them anyway. When the VA cancels without telling you, you still tend to need medical attention, so there’s no getting around having to make a new appointment … which will hopefully not be canceled. (But you never know.)
They make empty promises.
“We’re going somewhere nice this weekend.” “I’ll buy you flowers.” “I’ll always be faithful.” “We’ll take care of your medical needs in a timely manner.” You know how it goes.
They’re full of insincere flattery.
A douchey date thinks you can’t tell when they’re trying to stroke your ego. Maybe they think you really want to hear nothing but gushy superlatives about yourself, as though this is the magic key to unlock your pants. They’re full of it and you can tell. This is how it feels to be automatically thanked for your service, right before being informed that you’ll be removed from the premises if you continue to demand that someone tell you who canceled the appointment you just called yesterday to confirm.
They win you back, then screw you over.
Even the most lowdown douchebags can sometimes have the power to convince you they deserve a second chance. They show up at your door in their best clothes, on their best behavior, lip-syncing Al Green at you and oozing sincerity. It’s like finally speaking with someone at the VA who’s knowledgeable, friendly and sincere, assuring you that they can definitely take care of your problem – and then doing it. Mostly. They leave out some crucial detail, one you’d never have known to ask about. When you call to check up on that thing, you’re put on hold for so long that the phone hangs up on you. Thus, just like a ghosting douchebag, the VA breaks our heart.
Now, if any of my fellow veterans are confused about whether I’m trying to make light of the chaos that ensues from depending on our government to fund the VA as well as it funds the war, I should clarify – that’s exactly what I’m doing. If I didn’t make light of it, I’d end up with much more serious mental issues than just a sick sense of humor. But let’s keep things lighthearted, and finish with the last, most important way to know you’re dealing with the VA, or out with a douchey date:
They look good on the outside, but are secretly a hot mess.
The perfect hair, smooth skin, attractive features and magnetic charm of a steadily-employed, sexy, entirely-dateable douchebag can be hard to resist. At first glance, they’re everything they think you could want – but as soon as you get past the shiny exterior, all you see is a mountain of disgusting deception. Once you see it, it’s impossible to avoid.
Veterans and civilians really do share some similar struggles, when we break it down. Seriously though – it’s time to fix the VA.
Emily Yates, Eventual Ukulele Superstar, Doer of Things
The official “Try Not To Be A Dick” music video is now LIVE – watch it, Like it, share it!
Catch her performing live February 14th:
Starry Plough Pub
3101 Shattuck Ave