It is Monday. You have another 9:00 appointment with a VA psychiatrist specializing in treating hatred and phobias.
You also have your regular 3:00 group meeting with fellow PTSD vets.
It is easier on all concerned if you just stay at Ft. Miley all day instead of traveling back and forth.
Of course, if you could still drive ...
So you spend your time wandering over the hospital grounds. You go buy a cup of chocolate in the cafeteria.
Or you go sit in "Assessments & Evaluations" (Emergency Room).
Sometimes you go over to Building 8 (Psych Building) and sit downstairs in the waiting room.
Ultimately getting bored of this little dance, you sit in the lobby of the Main Entrance and people watch:
The Residents from UC-San Francisco Med School in their white coats, stethoscopes tossed around their neck and over their shoulder and walk at a fast pace.
You watch the aged father struggling up the ramp with his cane ... as his wife and grown-up daughter walk behind him encouraging his every step.
As he enters Building # 208, you and others vets notice that he is wearing a gold-and-white braided baseball cap that says "Bataan Death March Survivor". Conversations in the Lobby stop.
People crowded around the Lobby Information Desk instantly part so that the Bataan Death March Survivor has a barrier free corridor to walk through.
Conversation resumes as the Filipino veteran disappears down the hallway.
A furiously angry vet comes running out of the Assessments and Evaluations waiting room. He stops at the Lobby Desk and profanely cusses out the Attendent sitting there about the the two hour wait he has endured to get his medications.
Which he still doesn't have.
Wheelchair bound vet rumbles down the hallway. He is missing his right leg. He stops in front of your chair and wheels around to watch other patients coming in and going out of the Main Entrance.
10 minutes later, he puts his hands on the wheels, spins around and looks you directly into your eyes.
You return his stare with a smile. His body visibly softens as he returns your smile.
You think that you can't sit here on Monday's like this anymore.
So you walk down the hallway to the Cafeteria.
There is a crowd around the ATM machine. A vet with two hooks for hands is feverishly trying to extract a dollar bill from his wallet for the Coke machine next to the ATM.
You offer to help. He says "Just give me a moment, I can do this". Finally, he does so.
You continue your walk on to the Cafeteria.
Your stomach goes berserk. A scream begins at your toes and begins to rise through your throat like a volcano about to explode.
You feel a need to pound a fist through the walls. And it takes every iota of that you got not to scream at the top of your lungs.
Tears flow until you remember to take a deep breath. Everything will be OK. Just take a deep deep breath.
You will be here next Monday.
Just like you were here last Monday.
And then one day there won't be any more Monday's for you.
You will be home with those that you loved ... those who will always be forever young ... and with their names etched on a Wall in Washington DC.
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