Better late than never

Have you ever done something and then – after you’ve done it – started kicking yourself without mercy, all the time saying “Why didn’t I do this long before now?”

Of course you have. We’ve all done it. Today brought one of those moments to me … once again.

I went to the Thomas E. Creek Veterans Medical Center in Amarillo this afternoon and enrolled in the veterans health care program. That’s it. I’m enrolled fully in a program that’s been waiting for me for, oh, about 43 years.

Since I don’t have a full-time job and am paying through the nose for health insurance, I decided to take the plunge. I’ve known for a long time that the Creek medical center is a good one. All the veterans I know sing its praises.

Today, I got a glimpse of what they’ve been telling me.

I rolled into the Veterans Administration hospital parking lot today around 1:25 p.m. I walked into the lobby, asked someone there for the business office. He told me to step to my right and sign the book. I did. When I did, a woman asked me if I needed help. I told her I was there to enroll for VA benefits. She said, “Great, have a seat. Looks like you’ll be the next name called … and thank you for your service to the country.”

I sat down, grabbed something to read and about 90 second later, heard my named called.

I met a service officer named Jose. He took me to his office. We sat down and in less than one hour I was enrolled fully in a program for which I’ve been eligible since Aug. 20, 1970, the day I separated from the U.S. Army.

I’m fully insured. The only expense is for a co-pay is for prescription medications. I am scheduled to meet a VA doctor in a couple of weeks. The doc will look me over, declare (I hope) that I’m healthy and I’m in the system.

I sat in Jose’s office for a moment after it was done. “I cannot believe I waited until I’m an old man to do this,” I said.

He smiled, extended his hand and said, “Welcome aboard.”

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