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Fri, Oct. 18

Letter: Veterans should be proactive in health


This is to echo the thoughts of another veteran on the healthcare scandal at the VA. I spent a year in Vietnam in 1968 where a week didn't go by without some kind of combat action. Although I was a platoon leader and tank company commander, responsible for the welfare of dozens of men, I was, first and foremost, responsible for my own safety.

While many of my fellow soldiers were injured or killed by chance and through no fault of their own, many more were hurt because of their own neglect or mistakes. I learned that I had to use my training and common sense in everything I did if I wanted to survive without death or serious injury, and I did.

Now I go to the Pres-cott VA, where I invariably pass a knot of overweight men smoking at the entrance. I see all kinds of veterans who obviously think they can smoke, drink, overeat and not exercise as they grow older and the government has some sort of obligation to fix the results of their lifestyle choices.

However, as in combat, many of these men are sick through no fault of their own, and I think the VA does a remarkable job in providing health care for them. But, as I've come to learn through trial and error in my own life, my health is, first and foremost, my own responsibility.

It's never too late to begin to live a healthy lifestyle, and I would urge my fellow veterans to take advantage of the many programs, both at the VA and in our community, to learn how to do just that. Old age is one battle I don't expect to win, but I don't intend to go down without a fight!

Peter Van Haren


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