Captain Zoe M. Kotnik is the first female Commander and Pilot of the United States Air Force F-16 Viper Demonstration Team, assigned to the 20th Operations Group, Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina. (U.S. Air Force photo)
“I don’t think most Americans understand the long-term impacts of military service,” Sen. Tammy Duckworth, a Democrat from Illinois, said during a Disabled American Veterans panel on military caregivers in Washington, D.C., on June 19.
In 2014, buckets full of ice water set the internet on fire. People were challenged to dump a bucket of ice water over their heads, post the video to social media, then challenge others to do the same in order to help those with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS, often known by its older name, Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The campaign was tailor-made to take advantage of the viral nature of the web.
After being severely wounded and nearly dying in Vietnam, I spent 18 months at Walter Reed before being transferred to a VA hospital. There, VA doctors, nurses, and staff cared for my wounds, began my rehabilitation and made it possible for me to successfully return to civilian life. I shudder to think what would have happened to me, and thousands like me, if there had not been a VA health care system in place specifically designed to comprehensively address our unique needs as veterans.