I am an American soldier. I have been a patriot my entire life, and served actively in the U.S. Army for 24 years.
For 18 of those years I sat in a radio room, bunker or truck with headphones over my ears, straining to pick out vital intelligence information through static, squeals and squawks.
I copied voices and codes of the Viet Cong, Cubans and Soviets during the Cuban missile crisis, and many others through the years while protecting our country as well as our servicemen and women on five continents.
The contract that I signed with the Congress of our U.S. government guaranteed free medical and dental care for me and my dependents throughout our lives in exchange for my unquestioning acceptance of assignments, including those which required the risk of my life.
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I kept my end of the agreement. They have not.
My benefits continue to erode. I must pay for medical services, TriCare premiums and co-pays, and I pay 100 percent of dental care.
And now, after waiting for eight months for a 10-minute appointment, the VA has declared that my hearing loss, which is directly attributable to my service to this country's national security, is not a disability.
Our troops did not desert our nation when called upon to serve. It is shameful to desert our troops when they are in need.
Master Sergeant Robert S. Brett, U.S. Army (Ret.) Bradenton