Thursday Doors

Simple glass doors, but they lead to an important facility – the VA Medical Center in Manchester, NH.

After WW I, residents fought to establish a hospital for NH veterans.  The building was started in 1948 and was opened on July 2, 1950. It sits on land donated by the late NH Governor Frederick Smyth.

What would you see if you walked through the doors today? You would see some younger men and women but mostly men well over 50.

If you just looked around, you might make the mistake of thinking it is just a bunch of seniors seeking medical treatment for a variety of issues. But, then I sat there for a while and heard parts of several conversations.

For instance, the man in the wheel chair pulling the oxygen tank served in Vietnam driving an ambulance from the battlefields to the medical tents so the wounded soldiers could be treated.

Or, the man with the pony tail and the cane who remembers several close calls when he was almost shot down piloting a Cobra helicopter pilot equipped with a machine gun and grenade launcher.

The man sitting across from him told the story of when he thought he had been shot because he was bleeding so badly. Then he realized that while he moved through the swamp over 100 leeches had adhered themselves to his body.

Or, the man talking about the fear of having his gun jam as he was in the middle of a firefight, and how one of his platoon drowned while crossing a fast-moving river because he couldn’t swim.

And, the man who stood guard at Checkpoint Charlie on the west side of the Berlin Wall carrying a gun with blanks while the Germans on the east side had guns with bullets.

Yes, they are seniors now. But, there was a time, when many still in their teens, they put their uniforms on, and put themselves in harm’s way because they were asked to by us.

Did you know that as of 2015 only 7.3% of all living Americans have served in the military – 1.4% female and 13.4% male?

I hope and pray the system of VA Medical Centers across the nation continue to assess and improve their programs so they can provide exceptional care for all these men and women who so selflessly served on behalf of the United States of America. 🇺🇸

These special doors are linked to Norm Frampton’s Thursday Doors, April 19, 2018.

About Judy@NewEnglandGardenAndThread

Master Gardener who enjoys gardening, quilting, photography, and traveling.
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38 Responses to Thursday Doors

  1. Thanks for this powerful post. Our veterans deserve the very best.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. germac4 says:

    So true about caring for those who have served for their country Judy .. and also trying to understand the toll it takes on their own lives ..

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Joyce says:

    These stories make me cry. How can our country have any priority higher than treating our veterans to the very best of everything? So few always give so much. I bristle when I hear the cavalier attitude of any non-serving president toward sending in “boots on the ground” to solve problems abroad. Those “boots” are someone’s dearly loved son, daughter, husband, wife, brother, sister, mother or father. Like war so much? Go first yourself! – and bring your own sons and daughters with you!

    Liked by 4 people

  4. I agree with everyone else–our vets deserve the best and not just for physical wounds. Combat leaves its mark, no matter how well-adjusted the person may seem. We owe them and those who came before them, the freedoms we are cavalier with, even the freedom to revile the very people who fought and too often died for those freedoms.

    The leeches? Yuck!!!!


    Liked by 2 people

  5. Joanne Sisco says:

    Within these stories are the stark realities of life in war. It is not elegantly nobel – it’s often simple survival.
    Then, in spite of what they’ve endured, they are often expected to fend for themselves when returning to civilian life. Therein lies the shame.
    This is a great post, Judy.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Murphy's Law says:

    Spectacular doors indeed! Our VA is a disgrace. I have no doubt there are many men and women who staff the VA who work tirelessly to obtain better care for our veterans. But it seems they’re fighting a losing battle. I agree with Joyce about a non-serving President who additionally enjoys the best medical care in the world for free. I’d like to see that same President bucking the waiting lines and red tape and general BS our veterans have to deal with.

    Your post gets right to the heart of the matter. It is very sobering.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It is a huge elephant, and we can only hope they address small issues and get them fixed correctly. From what I’ve seen, there are a lot of caring workers doing the best they can with what they have been given to work with. The red tape and the waiting is an entire different topic, and it is a huge one.


  7. slfinnell says:

    We don’t know what we’d have done without the aid of the VA hospital for my husband. Thank you for telling their stories!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Norm 2.0 says:

    Great post Judy and a sad reminder of what we ask so many to go through in the name of patriotism.
    It’s no secret that I rarely agree with the reasons why we send our young people to war, but whatever is done to re-integrate them and care for them when they come home: it is NEVER enough.
    I have no doubt that if more of the well-off, well-fed politicians who make the decisions on these things were forced to go the through same experiences they’d put veterans much higher on their list of priorities and the situation would be much different. Either that or they’d think a lot longer and a lot harder before sending them into harms way in the first place.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Well said, Judy. The veterans go out to protect their countries’ interests when they are strong, brave and capable. Their countries should do their best to protect them when they are older, disabled and vulnerable.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Laurie Graves says:

    Hear, hear! A powerful post indeed. Also, a good lesson in how simple doors lead the way to a very important place.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Oddment says:

    Thank you, Judy, for this very thoughtful and timely post. The stories of those veterans give us some small insight into the damages we don’t see — unless we know to look. The comments above speak for me, and I especially appreciate the references to the well-fed battle-untested in their leather chairs sending the loved ones of others into dangers. Those may be “simple glass doors,” but there is nothing simple about the world behind them.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Almost Iowa says:

    My father refused to talk about his time in the service until he spent the last few months of his life at the VA. It is not that he saw action, quite the opposite, he came down with several tropical illnesses in New Guinea and as a result lost sight in one eye, his sense of taste and smell and acquired the COPD that eventually took his life. It weighed on him that “he never did anything” and that his unit was almost wiped out in the Battle of Manilla while he languished in a hospital state-side.

    Only in his last few months, did he meet other veterans who had similar stories to tell. It gave him peace.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m sure I cannot really imagine his feelings about his service time, but it sure seems like he made several sacrifices that were life altering. I thank him, you and your family, for his time, service, and the medical challenges he had to endure on our behalf. He is as much admired and respected as anyone who was on a front line somewhere because he put his personal and professional lives on hold to serve and protect the rest of us.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. pastpeter says:

    Thanks for this post, Judy. Back in my pastoral days I often visited people in the VA at Stony Brook. Few of them wanted to talk of their combat memories, but all were hungry for conversation and company.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You make an interesting point because most people don’t talk about their combat memories. I wonder if it is because they are all vets that they do talk about it. I was the only woman in the room, no one was paying any attention to me, and I was just amazed at the conversations going on as people came and went.


  14. Eliza Waters says:

    I agree that more should be done for veterans, considering their sacrifices. Interesting stats, when you think of the size of the military. That’s roughly 24 million service members.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. The VA improved the physical facilities here, but they have a meager staff and long wait times and doctors don’t stay long enough for anyone to get consistent care. They have a long way to go.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. jesh stg says:

    Love this post, Judy, because half of my neighbors in the street are veterans! They have made our adjustment to the country side much easier, because they are very quick to discern what someone else needs, and have a big compassionate heart with much hospitality. Haven’t met one yet who skated through their time of being in the armed forced without major medical trauma. Yes, and they tell of their docs appointments and their complicated healthcare woes. Hope that this administration will do more for the veterans:)

    Liked by 2 people

  17. It really is the stories that keep us going. I love the ones you told.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Politicians love to proclaim their admiration for veterans, yet their words frequently are hollow.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. As the wife of an ex-serviceman, I can empathise with these people and their stories. He never served in armed combat, but he did serve on peace keeping duties and that takes its toll too.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Tina Schell says:

    A wonderful tribute Judy. We are so lucky to have lived in a time of relative peace. It’s an absolute travesty that the our VA medical centers have been so horribly managed. I don’t know of a single person who wouldn’t vote to have their tax monies applied to fixing their issues over most anything else. Thanks for featuring this place and these people

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Ally Bean says:

    I worry about the VA Hospitals and how easily funding for them is cut by cold-hearted people who have never risked much of anything in their lives. The unfairness of it all rankles me.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. JEN Garrett says:

    That quote is so true. We need people both brave enough to die and brave enough to live for this country and all the freedom it stands for.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. KerryCan says:

    This set of doors, and your words about the VA hospitals, were bound to inspire lots of comments and strong feelings!

    Liked by 2 people

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