Like many veterans, I have a love/hate relationship with the VA.

The Department of Veterans Affairs sends me a check every month for the parts of my knees that won’t grow back, the metal screen in my stomach, the various screws and pins they cobbled me together with, and they even put up the cash to let me finish my bachelor’s and master’s degrees.  They also make headlines frequently for hanging up on suicidal veterans, leaving people on waiting lists for treatment for so long that they die, and possibly even infecting hundreds of veterans with HIV.  Maybe love/hate isn’t strong enough.  I’ve spent more hours in VA waiting rooms than I spent cleaning my rifle before turning it back in to the armory – and if your experience in the military was anything like mine, we’re talking a lot of lost hours.

The closest large VA medical center to me is about two hours away with traffic, so I tend to keep to civilian doctors now that I live in Georgia – but I recently ran into a situation that left with without much choice but to make the trek.

I woke up on Friday morning with a large spot taking up a good portion of my vision.  It looked a bit like I’d been staring at the sun for a few hours, with the spot flashing white each time I blinked.  I stumbled around my house a bit, honestly assuming I just wasn’t awake enough to see properly yet, before slowly coming to the difficult realization that the majority of the vision in my right eye was either gone or too blurry to be of use.  I couldn’t focus on the screen of my phone, the lights in my living room hurt, and the only way I could log into my computer was by closing my right eye to give me a clear view of the buttons on the keyboard.