Truth or Dare: VA Edition

Remember playing truth or dare?

You know, that stupid game (that refuses to die, apparently) clearly created by some sick psycho who really had it out for us shy kids who hated to be called on in class, let alone be put on the spot with some wildly embarrassing truth or some equally embarrassing dare.

Definitely not among the shining memories in my mind.

Be that as it may, I’d like to throw back to those days for a moment and play a version of the classic with politics’ latest It Girl—the one, the only, AOC from the Block.

(But not really the block. Unless by block you mean wealthy Westchester. In which case yes, absolutely—AOC from the Block.)

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or “AOC”—the freshman congresswoman who can’t name the branches of government or manage to film a Facebook Live video that doesn’t involve her sitting on her bed like a college student.

AOC, the one who did verbal blackface and got away with it. (Because, #CodeSwitching. Duh.)

She codeswitched again this last week—which brings me to the focus of our game:

“[T]here’s some things that we’re hearing today, there’s some themes we’ve got coming out, and especially when it comes to the VA, all I can think of is that classic refrain that my parents always told me growing up. Which is that, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’”

Ok, cool, cool. The VA isn’t broke. Oh excuse me, “ain’t” broke.

Let’s play.

Truth: The Conditions Are Squalid.

An Iraq veteran from Indiana went into his local VA on a Friday evening to get treatment for bronchitis or pneumonia. For 17 hours he sat and lay on an exam room table in the ER, a room with no chair, no pillow – only another exam table and 4 walls. He had no sleep, no shower, and no food (they finally gave him a stale sandwich with a piece of frozen turkey, after he asked for something to eat). He was told it would be Monday before another doctor could see him. Meanwhile, his urine and blood sample sat on the countertop nearly the entire time.

This veteran’s mother wrote: “The VA building nearest my son is dirty, decrepit, and smells like ‘mildew, old people, and piss,’ he told me. The waiting room chairs are stained and ragged. He told me, ‘It’s a hell-hole, Mom.’ This from a veteran soldier who fought in the dirt and filth of battle in the desert for months, going on missions without showering for days, where his main concern was that his gun was clean and functional. He’s no wall-flower.”


Give up private healthcare and go to the VA.


Truth: The Wait is Hell

Hundreds of thousands of veterans—many of whom survived war and its unspeakable horrors—have died waiting for care at the VA—and that doesn’t even count the ones who were trying to get enrolled for the first time. Thousands of records were carelessly deleted. Some veterans have been in “pending” mode for nearly two decades. In one VA location alone, “1,700 veterans were waiting an average of 115 days for a doctor’s appointment at the Phoenix VA hospital, and 40 veterans died while doing so.” There are copious examples of careless, reckless, and outright dishonest management of records all throughout the VA system. Perfectly aware that there’s a massive problem “VA employees in 19 states and Puerto Rico regularly ‘zeroed out’ wait times, hiding the true length of delays, and VA supervisors themselves ordered the fabrication of wait times at medical facilities in seven states.”


Give up private healthcare and go to the VA.


Truth: Veterans Are Killing Themselves in Desperation

Imagine. You’ve survived the military; you’ve survived deployment; you may have even survived combat. And now back home, burdened with the scars of your duties, you’re forced to endure the pain amidst mountains of paperwork that can be rejected or “lost” at any time. This April, in separate instances three veterans not only committed suicide—but they did it “within 5 days of each other at VA facilities in 2 states” in April. That’s the level of desperation. That’s the level of pain. And ladies and gentlemen, I have been on the receiving end of phone calls from a veteran family member who was perilously close to taking his life on multiple occasions. I literally had to talk this person off the ledge. It’s real, it’s happening. And it’s utter hell.


Give up private healthcare and go to the VA.


There are so many truths beyond these few. So many men and women, weary from battle and from the burden of their commitment to serving our country, are giving up. Their bodies are giving out; their minds are failing; their spirits are spiraling into a black hole of no return.

And you, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez—how dare you. How dare you stand up there in the face of FACT and laugh off this as a problem you can just throw a little more money at.

For the record, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t say it “ain’t broke” and a moment later demand that the American people cough up even more money to “fix” the problem.

The word is “isn’t,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez.

And yes, it is.

Mary Ramirez is a full-time writer, creator of, and contributor to The Chris Salcedo Show on KSEV 700 Radio in Houston. She can be reached at:; or on Twitter: @AFutureFree

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