I ran into my old battalion sergeant major the other day, and he asked me to come by and give him a price on putting some handrails on his front stoop. He said his wife's health had gotten so bad that he was worried she would fall off while he was closing the door, and he needed somewhere to prop her when he takes her to doctor's appointments.
The Sergeant Major ranks pretty high on the list of Marines I know, and he's at the top of those I served with. He retired right after we got back from Desert Storm, and went to work for the Sheriff's Department. He has since retired from that service also.
About eight years ago, his wife had a heart transplant, and her health has been poor and getting poorer since. Now she is suffering from dementia, and the Sergeant Major is worried he might find her walking down the road in her nightgown. I watched my mom and dad be madly in love for nearly forty years, but what I saw today was the greatest testament to the power of love I have ever seen. I watched as a tough man got very tender about the woman he has loved since they were both thirteen. While very powerful, it was also heart breaking.
After haggling a little over price (the Sergeant Major wouldn't accept free), it came out that the co-pays of his wife's healthcare were breaking him. And that is also heart breaking.
Our government promised our servicemen that they would be cared for for the rest of their lives, in exchange for twenty (or more) years of dedicated service. And as any veteran will attest, you can't do twenty years without serious dedication. Part of that dedication is the knowledge that your wife will be taken care of, should your dedication result in your demise. Another big chunk of that dedication comes from the promise that, should you live long enough, your medical needs will be on us. We are doing a piss poor job of supporting the men and women who have stood on the line for us. I hope all the fans of universal healthcare will take note: It's a hollow promise.
We don't promise you a rose garden, but we sure as hell should honor the promise we do make.