Veterans Day 2023

This Veterans Day, I am a bit tired from having to deal with a veteran ex’s medical issues. We both are vets, which is helpful in navigating the VA Health Care system, but it is still work to be a medical advocate for someone who is a different person every day. Trying to meet him where he is a moving target due to his TBI. So, please forgive me for digging into prior Veteran’s Day posts to bring you this long and very personal one.

This is last year’s post, which quotes my post from 2018. There are many things I could add due to the elections this past Tuesday, again. Ohio has now joined California in constitutionally protecting reproductive choices for women. It won by a wide margin of 56.6% to 43.4% of the vote. It is predicted to be THE galvanizing issue of the 2024 election, and yet, the GOP is not listening, but we women are. We are listening to the legislators who are trying to force their will on the majority and we are listening to each other and supporting each other.

What does all of this have to do with Veterans Day? My post of last year and of 5 years ago will explain what the political climate has to do with MY Veterans Day.

This is what I wrote in 2018, 4 (5 now) years ago, after another election. It is just as true today, even more so, after this latest election. I am again hopeful .

A partial repeat: In 1967, the Summer of Love was over. Viet Nam protests were barely beginning, and I found myself without a place to live, and had quit a job with an abusive boss. I did not know what to do, and so I joined the USWACs. The Army was segregated in those days — not by race, but by sex. All WAC training was held at Ft. McClellan, AL and so the Army flew me out to begin my training. It was in Alabama, in 1967 that I first observed racial segregation. I saw “whites-only” bathrooms and water faucets. They were NOT just a “left-over” relic from an earlier and sad time. They were a commentary on how far we still had to come, and have come. Racial segregation, at least not overt, was minimal in California. It was still rampant in Alabama when I was there.

In 1968 I was stationed at Ft. Huachuca, AZ at the Combat Surveillance School/Training Center Headquarters. (Spook School) I was on my way home to California when an automobile accident almost took my life, and did take my leg.

I ended up at the Veteran’s Hospital in West LA, associated with UCLA medical center. The medical care there was the best available. What wasn’t the best, was how they treated women veterans. We were a rarity, and the VA was not set up to deal with us.

There were no changing rooms for physical therapy for women vets, and I was the only one in the program. They had me use a broom closet. Of the over 400 bed hospital, only 16 were for women, and we had a separate open ward.

In 2018, more women have been elected to state and federal offices than ever before in history and more people of color are fulfilling their dreams of public service. There was both a blue wave and an estrogen wave. In my lifetime, women have traversed a difficult path with determination and with grace. We are making a difference.

In 2022 (and in 2024), women were motivated by the USSC’s overturning of Roe v Wade to vote, to run for office, and to win. Some states, like California, have now included women’s bodily autonomy into our state constitution. Women’s choices over their own bodies are now protected in some states. There is an underground movement to support and facilitate “camping” by women coming from a repressive state to a progressive state for health care. It is part of social media, now. I have been a witness to this movement.

…This past Tuesday, there WAS a shift in the American conscience. We achieved so much and overcame much of the hatred and racism which had infected some of our leaders. We told them, NO MORE. I could not be prouder of us and how we are taking back our democracy from those who have been trying to destroy it for the last couple years. (That treat is still present and being fought today in 2023.) We are a nation that is inclusive, not divisive. We are becoming stronger than ever before. America is powerful because of our diversity. Let us celebrate how much stronger our love is than the hate. Blessings to all our veterans and those who support them.

This is one of the comments on that post from 2018 that is another important reminder that I’d like to include here:

CONSTANCE NAGI, MD (SAN DIEGO) EditThank you, ‘Big Sur Kate’ , for being a ‘Call to Change’ … {and not a ‘Call to Arms…’}I too served … in the US Navy Medical Corps, starting ‘Active Duty’ in San Siego in 1978, when women were still not allowed on Navy Ships … My starting Medical School Class at U of Florida in 1973 was only @ 7% women (in my ‘Interview’ I was asked by a PhD ‘male Professor’ – ‘What would I do if I got pregnant during Medical School?’) … Now @ half of most Med School Classes are women … AND there are now women Navy Admirals! (I myself am ‘USN, Captain, Retired… ), managing to ‘traverse’ those early ‘murky Professional Waters…’ in both Medicine AND the Military…Thank you for YOUR Service … both in the US Army ‘WACS’ … and for your BigSurKate Blog…! Read & loved by many of us …

5 thoughts on “Veterans Day 2023

  1. A post that is more meaningful with each passing year. No apologies or explanation needed. What a painful and beautiful irony that you are caring for another vet. May you have some rest and some ease on this Veteran’s Day.

    (A 2023 milestone relevant to your post, and to the comment from Dr. Constance Nadi: the Navy is now led by a woman, Admiral Lisa Franchetti, finally confirmed last week (in spite of the delays presented by one obstructive senator, who I will not name). First female member of the Joint Chiefs.

  2. I’d like to share your post. Stories have the most punch of any other form of communication. The next best thing to hearing them from the ones who lived them.

    I was stationed in Turkey in 1968, and on a trip with my buddy who spoke Turkish, because he had “re-upped” four times in a row, I asked him why. “Beats the hell out of being black in the US.”

  3. Thank you Kate, for your service, and for standing witness. Generations after us may not realize and need these first person stories. Take care.

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