Our Own War For Freedom and Equality

In Columns, Just My Bellybutton, Opinion by Nathasha Alvarez

“Did you see the debate?” That was the question of the day following the presidential debate last week. Of course we saw it! Who didn’t?

Two people using political jargon to tell us …NOTHING! But now we have two more debates to see if the candidates will tell us something. At this point, I am hoping for ANYTHING!

However, I was impressed with the way Kerry handled himself at the debate. While our President appeared ruffled and a bit uncomfortable with the Iraq war topic, Senator John Kerry was poised and confident.

If I could interview the candidates in the next debate I would ask the following questions:

First question: What does our country plan to do with the war veterans who return physically disabled? Will they receive the same inadequate rehabilitative services as the rest of the disabled community? After leaving the United States healthy and strong, independent of medical assistance to fight a war with practically no support from the rest of the world…ah yes of course Poland is helping, and return maimed and emotionally stressed, will they be supported with financial means to care for their families?

What kind of jobs will be available to them? What job skills do they have after losing a limb or suffering severe burn injuries or spinal cord injuries? Unemployment rate among the disabled community is higher than the ashes blowing from Mount. St. Helen. Yet, these men and women gave their lives to fight for their country and when they return they might be fighting against their country.

They will have to fight for equality in every aspect of their lives from housing to access to public places including public transportation. Their fight has just begun.

Will the government modify vans and other vehicles so that veterans don’t have to rely on inadequate public transportation or special transportation systems who twist the words of the ADA to suit their financial needs?

If they do help modify private vehicles, who will pay for this? Will the tax payers pay for this? Will Vocational Rehabilitation be a part of the process? If so, the veterans better not hold their breath for too long!

Some soldiers might need a personal care attendant. Will the government offer that service to them before they meet the demands of the hundreds and thousands of disabled citizens who have been on waiting lists to receive a personal care attendant?

Medicine, medical bills, personal care attendants, housing, employment, transportation and social acceptance are some of the battles that disabled people in the United States combat on a regular basis.

Mind you, we have not even begun to address the psychological problems that the veterans will live with for the rest of their lives. Yet, millions of American citizens have psychological problems and receive no medical assistance because they don’t have insurance to help pay these outrageous doctor bills.

So while President Bush fumbles for a solution to a problem he refuses to acknowledge exists and Senator John Kerry returns to his plush mansion with the Ketchup Queen, disabled American citizens continue to fight their own silent war for freedom and equality.

Make your voice heard and vote!
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