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Dear Veterans Affairs, We just want to talk: Signed The Vets

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Freedom Plaza to V.A.
(Image by Cory V. Clark)
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/>Freedom Plaza to V.A. by Cory V. Clark

Washington D.C.-September 5, 2012

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A number of veterans from across the board have been occupying Freedom Plaza for over a year now in anticipation of this day; today they will march on the Veterans Affairs office in Washington, D.C.

In order to speak with representatives about various key issues needing addressing in the veteran community, including suicide, homelessness rates among veterans, standard of living increases for veterans, and cutting the red tape on claims and answering V.A. claims in a timely fashion. The original plan was for a twenty-four hour occupation in front of the V.A. Office at 810 Vermont Avenue.

When we got to the V.A. Office, a short walk from Freedom Plaza to just across from McPherson Square (the site of another occupation), many of the veterans spoke about the issues near and dear to them.

Don't tread on us!
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Don't tread on us! by Cory V. Clark

Many of them are angry at the lies they were told when they joined, while in service and after they were discharged.

"Veterans are suckered into wars for greed and profit, then have to fumble through the maze of paperwork to file claims," said Bill Perry, a Vietnam Veteran. "They've used us and abused us and these kids like an old condom, then threw us all away."

"No one knew about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder back in my war, so they self medicated; the V.A. won't look at your claims if you've self medicated. This is unacceptable," said Perry.

After Bill finished a mysterious masked young masked veteran of four combat tours came out to speak. "They are not taking care of our pain; more soldiers have killed themselves than died in the war."

"Everyone who was involved with 9/11 is either dead or has been captured. We looked around and asked ourselves, 'So do we pack up? Is it time to do inventory? Yet a year later, there we still are.'"

The speeches continued for some time with veteran after veteran pouring out his soul, telling of the anguish over every veteran who has ever been murdered by his government with his own hand, for the profit of the few at the suffering of the many.

One of the signs read, "Don't send us if you can't afford us when we come home."

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"All these kids are coming home and killing themselves. At my V.A. in Wilkes-Barre there are just two suicide coordinators," said Pat, a Navy Veteran from the Vietnam era.

"It took them thirty-seven years to get me my medical," said Frosty a 58-year-old Army veteran. "We'd like to see congress hold an emergency session on the suicide rates of veterans. Congress just shot down a cost of living increase and a veterans jobs bill."

"I look at it this way: if another country came here and set up shop we'd be pissed, so why do we go over to other countries, set up shop and not expect them to get pissed off at us?" said Frosty.

The men who spoke were not just speaking to themselves or the people who were watching on the various livestream channels, but to the V.A. employees and passersby walking in an out of the offices.

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Cory Clark is an Independent Photojournalist and writer, focused on Civil and Human Rights issues, National and international politics, and Social Justice Movements. He is currently working to document the lives of the homeless from their (more...)

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