CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- As a disabled veteran who advocates for and assists our veterans, I have seen firsthand those who have fallen through the cracks and were forgotten. Daily I receive numerous calls from veterans who are at the point of giving up. I do what I can for them.
It saddened me last fall when I drove into 48 states for veterans awareness and saw the many sad situations and problems our veterans are facing. I was a rolling Veterans Services officer and assisted many with service-connected disabilities claims and with other issues. In one state I assisted a veteran who was stranded and critically ill. A few days later he died in my arms. I tried to bring this situation to the attention of whoever cared, and I found that hardly anyone did.
On Dec. 21, 2011, when I entered Washington, D.C., my final destination, I tried bringing the many issues and problems that I have seen to the attention of Rep. Shelley Moore Capito. I was emotionally broken from all that I had seen. My feet and back hurt me, for I had walked four blocks to the Rayburn Office Building then down a long hallway.
When I arrived at her office, she was going home. It was very disappointing that she seemed too busy and had no concern about what I had to tell her about what veterans are facing. There were two congresswomen from other states who took time out to talk with me, and they were very concerned.
Congresswoman Capito isn't the only local and state political figure to whom I have tried bringing veterans issues and problems. I hear some of them say that they support our veterans and troops. I ask myself how they can say that when I am a disabled veteran and military sexual trauma survivor who has gone to them for assistance and who hasn't been taken seriously.
Several of them have laughed, disrespected and misunderstood me for being too compassionate and caring about our veterans. Their behavior and lack of concern has inspired me to keep on doing what I can for our veterans. The mission is stronger than ever, and the veterans that I am advocating for and assisting are being taken care of.
This election season, I have thought long and hard who I am voting for, and if they haven't supported veterans or me, they won't be getting my vote. I pray they will start doing more for our veterans. Hopefully they will realize how they have mistreated me and that they can't truthfully say that they support veterans when they haven't supported me.
Groves, of Dunbar, is commander of the Institute-based Joseph Turner American Legion Post 11 and heads an effort called The Veteran's Connection.