Veterans, The Least of These?

9 Nov

A scripture exerpt: Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ “Then He will answer them, Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ ~Matthew 25


*Personal Disclaimer: My mind is full of so many details and directions. I will attempt to briefly lay out the gist and hope for a cohesive presence.

It is inconceivable to me that our veteran’s suffer at the hands of a medical system inadequately established to care for the men and women who offer their body, mind and often times spirit in sacrifice for the rest of us. Why are the powers-that-be not reorganizing this health care system to better accommodate the needs at hand? I exhale loudly as I contemplate the complexity of the question. The profound respire of frustration.

You see I sat with my son for each and every appointment he had at the VA. There were many and at various locations–Los Angeles, Long Beach, Laguna Niguel. Hoped for Palo Alto, but denied. Looked into La Jolla, denied. We would bring our own lunch cooler, games and the best patience we could muster. Neurology, for example: After the 3 to 4 hour wait, we would meet with a resident doctor from the local University California system. The resident would take notes. Another hour and then the specialist would enter the room. Despite the notes from the resident, the same questions would fly. And result? Nothing. “Sorry but I don’t think the VA will approve that treatment. I’ll submit the request but it is doubtful. I’ll see you back here in another month.” And commonly the appointment is re-scheduled because the speciliast has to travel to teach.  What in the world is the VA doing using military veterans as tools for the educational system? The UC system is impacted in and of itself, let alone sharing it’s depletion with the VA. …it boils my blood.

I am getting closer to sharing Cole’s story, or at least pulling back the veil in snipets. His story is complex and well layered. He was on the front lines in Afghanistan with a malignant brain tumor, but was told he had mental illness. Three Army hospitals failed to extend the proper diagnostics to catch the tumor early on. In fact it was Cole who sensed the issue, but only after grappling for months with what the Marine Corps was telling him–that he was subpar. And of course they would think that, the Army hospitals were confirming as much. His tumor was discovered here in our home hospital, only after Cole insisted in the ER that he would not leave without a CT scan. End scene.

This morning my husband asked the most unusual question, “Would you want to hike up to the flag pole with me today?” Now if you know me, you know that I LOVE to hike. You would also know that Brian (my other half) does not. So when he asked me, and being I had the day off from work, I jumped at the chance and gave an emphatic, positive reply. Being that Veteran’s Day is heading toward us this week, my heart is a bit sensitive. Veteran’s Day also falls the day before our daughter’s birthday. These two dates are bitter sweet for our family. Without Cole by our side, celebrations of any kind are. And the flag pole hike is one that I have traversed with Cole alone, prior to his tumor discovery. So this morning as I was retracing steps long ago taken with my son by my side, and being the very trail is named “Patriot Trail,” additionally the flag waving atop the ridgeline was secured as an Eagle Scout project (Cole earned his Eagle Scout in January of 2009) my mind was busy in pondering. I thought of our own story, layered and well suited for a lawsuit or two. But as I think of the legal road, I can’t escape the question, “for what and to whom would that benefit?” I can sue the Army, Marine Corps and VA but that won’t bring Cole back to our family. Sure a little financial gain is a temptation, I won’t lie. Especially as expenses from the experience mount. But the gain of financial security seems pointless when Cole’s story is the unfortunate story of many of our veteran’s. No, I must hang on and invest the energy needed to “tell the tale” for the greater good–the men and women still living.

One of Cole’s best friends from the Corps is one such person. In Texas he is currently experiencing the same “run around” for a condition that should (and could) easily be remidied. When I think of my calling as a servant of The Most High, I cannot forget the living. And as such I remember the words of Jesus as written in the book of Matthew. Of course with teaching from Jesus there are multiple lessons imparted, though I am honing in on “the least of these.” Essentially Jesus is saying to those he is teaching that when considering people of lesser circumstances, you are simultaneously considering the Heavenly Father. And should you disregard those facing unfortunate pathways, you also disregard God. Thus to garner favor for the Bent family only feels wrong, when so many are presently living Cole’s story. Which brings me to my next question, “how did our military veteran’s get relegated to the category of ‘least of these’?” The idea of it sickens my soul.

This Veteran’s Day I will visit the grave of my son. I will hate every minute of it. But amidst my sorrow and longing for his return I will also seek strength. Strength to find the path of action which will lead to reform. Our military service people deserve it.

Patriot Trail San Juan Capistrano

Rivka at the Flag Pole on Patriot Trail


13 Responses to “Veterans, The Least of These?”

  1. Kim Juniper November 10, 2015 at 8:49 am #

    We love you and miss you…..your family is so special to us and you seriously touch my soul every time I read your blog. I know the pain of losing Cole is still very much alive an raw and we are so sorry for that. Its just a long painstaking process, but I do hope you find some calm when you visit Cole tomorrow, he is all around you, and he would want nothing more than for you to smile for him. (Many Hugs)
    – The Juniper’s

    • Rivka And Her Wit November 12, 2015 at 3:05 pm #

      You and Robert are dear to us, thank you for continually standing by. xo

  2. Ceci November 10, 2015 at 8:27 am #


    What a tragedy. “If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and violent perverting of judgment and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter: for he that is higher that the highest regardeth; and there be higher than they.” (Ecc. 5:8)

  3. Margie November 10, 2015 at 8:00 am #

    What can I do to help? I vividly hear and remember Cole’s phonecall to me asking what was wrong and what to do the evening you took him to the ER for the CT scan. I told him not to budge out of the hospital until he had a scan because I thought he may have a leaking blood vessel in his brain. I have so many photos of him as a Marine, in the hospital, here in NI. He speaks to me almost everyday from his photos. He would be happy to see that MY Guasacate house is now almost as much built as when he was standing in Ron and Ana’s partially build house next to mine three years ago. Ana tells Cole’s story over and over too.

    You do need to write a book. It doesn’t need to be a textbook. The Bent story of Cole with appendices of “how to” information would be appropriate and not detract from the story. People will read stories and those seeking information will get it. The “tags” that you put on your blogs are perfect for information seekers.

    You and your family have great purpose for your lives. You are incredible models of God’s work on earth. I think that Cole is up there showing us all the way this time.

  4. Brad November 10, 2015 at 6:35 am #

    The process involved with getting the proper compensation from the military would be helpful information for other families as well, as other families have lost loved ones as well. You can document how to do it in your book. It’s the right thing to do for you, and for other families through the information in your book. Your book is missing a chapter without this process. Hire the lawyers.

  5. sammycon November 10, 2015 at 5:20 am #

    Your narrative put me in a condition where I was able to visualize this horrific performance as if I was an audience member, weeping while the cast of players preformed the account of Cole. As I read on and reread your words they struck home the anguish and rousing frustration you were experiencing. It brings to mind what Mary and Joseph must of felt as they went place to place seeking a safe dwelling to birth there child. The professionals’ charged with the power over life and death judged in a crime of ignorance that you take your Son to another door and another. The Bent family had been hurled into a tragic comedy of errors and we ask, how is this possible? The only remedy that comes to mind is, to retell Coles story over and over, shout it from the mountain top if need be. Tell the story until those negligent of doing nothing are pierced with the roars of pain that every Mother has felt with the loss of her child. Alas the performance ends, but what of those who bare the scars? Perhaps a quest is in order. What would Jesus have done. What has he taught us. Martin Luther King knew, a young Pakistani girl named Malala found a way, Mahatma Gondi knew.
    Through out history the human sprit has spoken up for the oppressed and departed. The power of action, the pen and the voice is the most powerful weapons against ignorance.

    With love, Jerome

    • Rivka And Her Wit November 12, 2015 at 3:07 pm #

      Always nice to know you’re still around, Jerome. Thank you for the poetic affirmation. Be well.

  6. rhonda&gai November 9, 2015 at 10:43 pm #

    tears and love for you. rhonda + gai


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