Chronicles Of A Post 9/11 Veteran Through The VA Healthcare System
by Joey Olivo on August 31, 2012 at 9:36 AM
Now first off, before I even begin, let me start by saying I am not looking for sympathy because anyone that knows me will tell you that when told, “I am so sorry for your injuries”, my reply is always the same; It was worth it and if I could go back and do it all again I would, no questions asked, It was my pleasure. My view has not changed, and I do not ever see myself changing it.
This will be an ongoing story. I just simply want to shed light on how this system works, and by doing that, I want someone to get ahold of one of the many of thousands of cases like mine and get a President that will actually do something to fix a very broken VA Healthcare system.
First off, let me give you a backdrop on my story, and then in forthcoming posts, I will continue with my experience:
I served from 2001-2005 in the US Navy. I was deployed on the USS Theodore Roosevelt Aircraft Carrier and was attached to Electronic Attack Squadron 137 out of Whidbey Island, Washington that was deployed just eight days after 9/11. We went and did our tour of duty and came home. During my second deployment in 2003, in support of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, is where my VA story begins.
During this deployment, we were tasked with a heavy workload, and I was given the honor of being a flight deck troubleshooter. This job required longer hours on the flight deck and required quick thinking in very stressful conditions: both physical and mental and a lot of danger. While on the flight deck we wore very heavy tool pouches. Mine was on my right side for ten to seventeen hours at a time. This pouch was essential to us because it contained the bare minimum tools that we needed to fix our planes so they could complete their missions.
Wearing this pouch put a lot of stress on my low back. Wearing it that along with having to contort my body into unnatural positions to fix problems that arose. About four months into our tour of duty, I found myself in one of the scariest situations I have ever been in. During a routine launch, one of my own aircrafts was turned around, and as the pilot turned ,he increased his throttle on the jet. Unbeknownst to the pilot, he had just blown down three men behind him.
I remember the heat from the Jet Blast, and then I remember having my legs blown out from under me, I landed on my low back and then my head hit the flight deck, and I blacked out. The next thing I remember is that I was being blown across the flight deck and was headed for a jet that was at full power getting ready to launch. I remember everything was in slow motion as I grasped at the flight deck even partially ripping my finger nails off trying to stop myself from what would be a certain death by fire. All of a sudden, at the last second, a shadow came over me and I stopped. My best friend Cassidy had ran through the jet exhaust and jumped on top of me and saved my life. This is where my problems started.