My Veteran and Creative Caregiving

Viet Nam Veteran

lement Edwardo Hill, II was a veteran of the Viet Nam conflict during the Tet Offensive 1967 - 1968. He was drafted despite being enrolled full time to attend college. An only son, he was stationed in Thailand where he learned a lot about the culture.  Though it is claimed that the government did not draft only sons, stationing him in Thailand, away from the actual theater of battle, was a way to skirt that practice.  I was told it as a suggestion, however, it always worked whether or not the person wan an only son if they had enough fiscal influence.

While in the Trade Department in the British Virgin Islands, I overheard a woman say, “Aracept.”   I speculated a relative of hers was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.  This pharmaceutical is advertised as believed to address the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.  A doctor prescribed the same for my husband the same day he looked at inaccessible MRI film taken in a unit on Tortola.  By inaccessible I mean that the doctor could not magnify the image for more answers.  The MRI unit must have been decommissioned according to US standards.  At the time, Anderson Cooper’s “360” show on CNN demonstrated an MRI unit with three dimensional imagery and high magnification capability.

Most of what the doctor offered us that day were guesses based on his experience and the drug.  I gave my husband one tablet.  He did not do well and we agreed that I would not give it to him again.

When we returned to the United States, the work continued to enroll him into the Veteran’s Administration system.  When we were in the British Virgin Islands, I enrolled him in the Peters Medical Center facility in the Bronx, anticipating our move to New York City.  Things did not work out that way.  We flew into South Carolina and the process began anew. 

The United States of America is a republic.  Our veterans have been asked to maintain its liberties.  And for all who were asked to go, and went, we owe them our gratitude.  Despite having known the US is comprised of autonomous states, I was still surprised that the Veteran’s Administration’s regulations varied depending on location.  It meant more work but also informed me of the variation of services and, even more important, of the number of veterans in need.

Orangeburg, South Carolina has a friendly, efficient clinic for veterans.  We were interviewed by a Physician’s Assistant (PA) who, unfortunately, used most of the time filling in information on his computer.  He asked me, “What do you want the VA to do for you?” I responded, “To assist in the health needs of my husband.”  I was told that was a broad statement and he launched right in to what the VA could not do. 

The clinic has Home Based Patient Care (HBPC) services that provide visits to the home.  This was of immense help.  It saved the time of preparing and transporting my husband to the clinic.  The physician, nurses and a social worker visit the home providing services and an ear.  They listen.  I don’t like to complain or express the stuff that was going on, but it was helpful because they listened.  They also had great advice, ways to ease the work.

Each client is assigned a physician.  Each client is also assigned a social worker.  Each time I think of the social worker, I bless her for being there.  She made sure we became aware of services they could provide my husband such as a wheelchair; a shower chair; crutches.  Unfortunately, due to a lack of transportation, we were unable to avail ourselves of these gifts.

The appointments to have Clem measured for the above were made through the clinic at the William Brian Jennings Dorn Medical Center in Columbia, South Carolina.  A brilliant employee at the MRI department said during my call to cancel yet another appointment, “Why don’t you get the transportation together and then make another appointment?” 

That was something I did not need to hear.  I wrote a letter to the Director and copied the HBPC Medical Director and the Supervisor.  I decided to keep the letter and release the energy of the incident. 

The work to organize all of what was needed was exhaustive.  The hospital had volunteer drivers collecting vets for appointments.  The van collected passengers at 6:45 AM some distance away for which we needed a taxi but they did not run before 9:00 AM.  Later the Orangeburg area did not even have a driver to operate the van. 

We were finally able to hire transportation to the William Brian Jennings Dorn Medical Center in Columbia, South Carolina.  It was worth the time to get my husband to a couple of his appointments. 

We continue along.  The VA clinic continues to support my husband’s health with monthly visits to weigh him, take his blood pressure and discuss what transpired since the last visit.  The staff is exemplary, on time, and in time.  You can find more information about support for veterans at




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