Most of you know I was injured in work back in 2013 and haven’t returned to work since. Our hope was that I would eventually heal enough and build up enough core strength to return to work. Alas poor Yorick, I is done. My lumbar is not cooperating. On March 8 of this year, I retired.
Now, I’m not one to sit and love it, so I’ve been game planning. Besides, we are not ready to retire $-wise.
You all know, I write. I also have a decent eye for what makes for a good picture. If I were to combine the two, I would have a sort of photo-journalist kind of person to work with. I can’t do that job though because of the mobility issues and I probably wouldn’t be able to carry all that camera crap around with me everywhere anyway. But, I can self employ at my own speed.
I already have one option opening up to do Tech-writing for a local company. This task will combine photography, videography and writing. Other similar opportunities will open up too, once word of mouth does it’s thing. With just short visits to the factory, I can do most of this work at home.
Add to that my own creations and I have what I feel is decent plan. I don’t actually need to work full time and that opportunity I spoke of will take up about 20 hours a week. Tech writing pays very well, btw. Thing is, I need training. I barely can take simple “auto” mode pics with today’s rigs.
So, my plan brought me to earning an A.S. in Occupational Photography at Las Positas College. I already have all the general ed course I could possibly need and only need the Photo, Video, Web Design, etal classes and some creative writing stuff too. I can finally get that degree I put off for the needs of being a dad. So, that takes care of the schooling but not living too. I need to bump our income at the same time. Hard to do when you can’t work.
I am still eligible for Voc Rehab through the VA, via a clause that covers disabled vets who through injury, can’t perform the work they are trained for, even if their normal eligibility for that benefit had expired. I fall under this category. This benefit pays tuition, books, supplies and numerous other perks. It also provides the veteran with a monthly stipend to help pay living expenses.
I applied for Voc Rehab with the VA on Feb 8, 2017. After 8 weeks of no response, and my registration date fast approaching, I called them. They couldn’t find my app and told me someone would call back that day. They didn’t. I called again, twice, and finally got through to a person. This time they did find my app and we’re very concerned that it had been sitting around for so long!!!!! “Someone will call you back shortly!” I didn’t hold my breath.
This time they did call back…in ten minutes with very cryptic instructions to be there early the next day for evaluation and assessment with the good folks at Oakland VR&E (Voc Rehab and Education), applying pressure like it was my fault they had screwed the pooch.
I also had about 8 hours of prep work to do prior to going. I was up until 2am doing that then back up at 6am so I wouldn’t be late.
I made it to my appt. and after sitting around for two hours, doing absolutely nothing, my assigned councilor called me to her office and promptly excused herself, leaving me with her trainee. 30 minutes later she came in, reviewed my file for 10 minutes then said this…
“I have to be honest, Mr. Hurder, you’re 65, you’re injured, by the time you get out of school, you’ll be 67/68. Who’s going to hire you? I’m afraid I have to recommend against granting you Chapter 35 benefits, you’re unemployable.”
What I heard in my head to go with that was “go lay down in the corner and die.” What I felt was that from the initial denial via no call to the moment I walked in that office, that they had pre-identified me as an easy rejection and made me pay for that status. I was the only one still awaiting an interview , by an hour at minimum, when called into her office. The next round of Vets were already processing in, before I was seen. I was rejected before any of my group were finished, though.
Speechless and angry, I had to leave the room. While I was out, this-person-conferred with her boss who agreed that discriminating against the aged and the disabled was okay. I removed myself completely before the fireworks began. I sat in their damn garage for another 30 minutes, at $2/half hour, because I WOULD have gone atomic in a road rage incident for sure! I couldn’t even wait for the assholes to reimburse me for mileage.
This should never happen. I have tried so hard to NOT point fingers at the VA. This was a truly suck experience, though, and it was at the hands of the VA. I was humiliated in front of several other Vets and all the fake-smiling, cold-hearted bastards who work there. I was too embarrassed to face my family and tell them, yet again, I’ve failed to get that degree.
Later, after somehow making it home safely where I could further stew on this, I got progressively more angry, then depressed. For some period of time, I don’t know how long, I envisioned my end clearly. My vision was so black…and then red. I debated it, I really did. And they wonder at the 22…who are these fucking people? I had to completely Isolate from humankind and from all things physical…for hours.
I wrote to everyone and mailed not a one. I doubt any of them give a damn. If they really did, could the VA still operate like this? While I will send those letters today because no one should be allowed to get away with that behavior, I’ve also decided to find a way forward, without them. They can eat shit, like they always have. I will go ahead and register for classes and we’ll see what God and fate send my way. I have some time, yet.
I made it 45 years without any help from the dicks. I’ll make it the rest of the way. But, now I’ll hammer them every day of my life until the day I die, on their own sites/pages/forums etc. No mercy! No excuses!
The Department of Veterans Affairs SUCKS!
And, oh BTW, for all the good the AMVETS have been, I’d have done better asking BLM to represent me. At least I’d have known they intended to fuck me. The best thing I can do to reflect my dissatisfaction with those supposed agents of good who are nothing more than clowns in uniforms, pretending to give a fuck, is to change my representative in as public a way as I can. I will do that very thing! Coming soon!
Fuck ’em all!