No doubt you’ve seen the news clips about this General or that getting fired over the mess at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Congress is up in arms over the quality of health care for our wounded soldiers. Now they’ve declared that they will be examining military hospitals all over the nation. I wish they would. And when they find out that this free health care is not all it’s cracked up to be, maybe they’ll turn their attention to the US military hospitals overseas. Then they can come talk to me. Or rather, I’ll go talk to them. I’m only 12 minutes away from the US Capitol building. I’ll gladly tell my story.
What I would tell them would cause jaws to drop. I will spare you most of my rant because you really don’t want to get me going. My list of complaints against the military health care system in general, and against the 121st General Hospital in Korea (a US Military hospital) specifically, is long and painful. Misdiagnosis by military doctors is the common theme, followed by a correct diagnosis and cure by civilian doctors. Pitiful tales of an ER that lets patients -we’re talking infants and pregnant women- go home untreated after waiting for hours.
A bureaucracy that let our daughter die, then circled the wagons and threw obstacles in our path when we tried to get answers. A legal system that curtails the rights of American citizens living overseas by limiting the damages they can be awarded. A medical system that leaves the doctors in question with unblemished records.
We sued the US Government on behalf of our entire family over the untimely, negligent death of our daughter Rebecca. They dismissed all the claims except one. I guess we were lucky that our case went forward at all. Most people think you can’t sue the government. You can, but government has to allow it. The fact that ours went forward tells you a lot about the merits of the claim. Our case was settled out of court. You’d think that was good, except that because we were living overseas at the time Rebecca died, our case was never allowed to go to court. Neither a judge nor a jury was ever allowed to hear what happened. Just two government lawyers in our living room one day. The settlement that was offered was pitiful. So what is the life of a child worth to the US Government? Not enough to buy a house.
It wasn’t about the money, of course. It was about getting answers and accountability. I know there will come a day when our surviving children ask about what really happened to Rebecca. And when they learn the truth, the whole truth, they will want to know what we did about it. We can look them in the eye and tell them that we held the government accountable in the only way we could.
Last night, Boo was sad about Becca in a way that he hasn’t been in a long time. He has told me that he doesn’t like to think about her because it makes him sad. I guess he’s been bottling it up and it was time to let it out. So I held him while he cried. And I cried out to the Lord, "Why? Why did you do this to us? Why did you take our beautiful baby from us? Why did you take her and leave us behind? How do we pick up the pieces and carry on, as if every day we didn’t wish this life were over? How do we explain to our children how to trust in You?"
Sometimes I can say the right things. Sometimes I am at peace. Sometimes I am hopeful and courageous and strong. And sometimes I am angry. Angry at what was lost, at how helpless I am, at a system that failed us in every possible way.
When Congress is done cleaning house in the military hospitals around the country, I hope they have some energy left. I have a story I’d like to tell them.