82.Therapeutic Work Experiences

The Ministry Of Truth

Dear Friends and Wanderingvets:

After reading these VA Memos (especially yesterday’s in article 81) I feel like Winston Smith in George Orwell’s book 1984.  I sometimes wonder if the Veterans Administration does not have their own Ministry of Truth!

After reading and writing about the Contract the VA has with Goodwill, I did my 2.0 mile walk to work yesterday(which I enjoy), for my job of unloading trucks bearing goods full of cheap Christmas items from China for our nations retail stores (which I loathe). Anyhow,  during my walk I keep thinking about how being a homeless veteran, going to a minimum wage job, this would be called in that VA memo a “Therapeutic Work Experience”.

I am having a hard time with my Therapy. My Therapists are only giving me 30 hours a week of Therapy currently. I am not sure I could stand much more. For my Therapy I unload very heavy trucks by hand and distribute very heavy and unwieldy pieces of Chinese made furniture all over a warehouse by hand (a fork lift could hurt someone and is not Therapeutic). They tell me I am doing very well in my Therapy and hope I will stay in Therapy a long time as I am a lot different than a lot of the people they get for Therapy there (meaning I show up on time and work).

The down side to this sort of Therapy. I will not be able to afford a place to live ever, it does not train anyone for anything except to lift and stack (playskool toys accomplished that when we were infants), It does make one so exhausted that you physically die after doing this all day and sleep like the dead afterwards.

The upside to this Therapy is that you are damn motivated to find something else! I am doing this Therapy only to be able to eat, and have some money now that I am in a city and there are not “handy man” type jobs as there were in the more rural areas as before in my travels. I admit to missing the side of the mountains and the friends I had made out there.

I have to admit the VA’s Goodwill Memo as I will call it really does bother me. It mentions physically and mentally disabled veterans as well as homeless veterans. On my walk into work yesterday I was really upset. I feel and felt yesterday just impotent rage. If these veterans are physically and mentally disabled, why are they not before the Compensation and Pension boards? Why are they being used as mules for six months at Goodwill as temporary labor? Why are the homeless veterans being taught to stack and lift? These are not training and reintegration programs teaching valuable job skills that will give someone dignity! How are these veterans being shown dignity being farmed off to the closest GOODWILL? How is someone going to make a living to get a place to live with a skill that says “Do you want fries with that?” or “Let me show you how to put that on a hanger”. Good Job Training VA!

I read another memo and I praised the VA earlier for being supermen in assisting former homeless veterans in doubling their incomes. I have to retract that statement here. If the veterans were only earning minimum wage in the first place, doubling it was not doing much better at the time of the memo was dated. Because during the ten year time frame they had stated, the minimum wage in the U.S. had been as low as $3.50 an hour. It would not have been hard to double that depending where you lived at the time.

I admit that the VA memo writers are good on propaganda. They blend facts over such a long span of time that it would make you think they did accomplish something. Unfortunately, some of the accomplishments that they blend into current memos can be as old as twenty years old.

It is a wonder the VA just does not pass out free bottles of Victory Gin to its Staff, Patients and followers so it just keeps everyone self medicated and no one can remember what it did if anything at all.



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