Two Veterans: 500 Yards Too Far, 30 Minutes Too Late For One, And Peacefully Passing In The Presence Of Loved Ones For Another
[guest post by Dana]
Because news out of the VA simply cannot get any more awful:
A veteran who collapsed in an Albuquerque Veteran Affairs hospital cafeteria — 500 yards from the emergency room — died after waiting 30 minutes for an ambulance, officials confirmed Thursday.
It took a half an hour for the ambulance to be dispatched and take the man from one building to the other, which is about a five-minute walk, officials at the hospital said.
Personnel performed CPR until the ambulance arrived.
According to Paul Bronston, a California emergency-room physician and chair of Ethics and Professional Policy Committee of the American College of Medical Quality,
[I]t may sound ridiculous that staff had to call 911 but that practice is the standard at hospitals. Typically, an ambulance would arrive faster, and other factors can stall workers trying to rush patients to the emergency room on foot.
However, VA spokeswoman Sonja Brown claimed that while the staff followed policy in calling 911 and that the policy is “now under expedited review”, the policy is a local one.
The veteran’s identity has not been released.
Also, World War II veteran and American hero Louis Zamperini, age 97, passed away from pneumonia this week while surrounded by his loved ones. Zamperini became an inspiration to those who knew him, as well as to those of us who came to know him through Laura Hillenbrand’s heart-wrenching biography Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption.
Born on Jan. 26, 1917, Zamperini’s larger-than-life story began with a blue-collar upbringing in Olean, a city in western New York. When he was 2, the family moved to Southern California, where he spent a rebellious childhood before channeling his energy and tenacity into sports. He started with boxing, to defend himself from bullies, but quickly became a world-class runner after joining his high school track team.
In 1934, Zamperini – nicknamed the “Torrance Tornado” for his hometown of Torrance, California – broke the 18-year-old interscholastic record for the mile in 4:21.2, a mark that would stand for 20 years.
A track star at the University of Southern California, Zamperini competed in the 5,000-meter run at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. He finished eighth but caught attention by running the final lap in 56 seconds – and grabbed headlines by stealing a Nazi flag.
But it was Zamperini’s incredible World War II story that captured the imagination of millions back home.
He was a bombardier on a U.S. Army Air Forces bomber that crashed in the Pacific Ocean during a reconnaissance mission. He and one of the other surviving crew members drifted for 47 days on a raft in shark-infested waters, drinking rain water and eating fish and birds they caught with their bare hands, before being captured by Japanese forces. A third man died before they reached land.
“Forty-seven days in a raft, you learn the value of water more than anything in the world,” he told the AP in a 2003 interview. “We prayed for rain to have something to drink. When you’re hungry, you eat anything. We caught a shark. We caught an albatross that tasted like a hot fudge sundae.”
When he and his surviving raft-mate, pilot Russell Allen Phillips, reached land on the Marshall Islands, they were captured by the Japanese, who had also strafed their raft from the air and riddled it with bullet holes.
“I thought to myself, ‘Six weeks ago, I was a world-class athlete,’” he said in that interview. “And then, for the first time in my life, I cried.”
Zamperini would spend more than two years as a prisoner of war being shuttled among Japanese prison camps, where he survived beatings, starvation, debilitating illnesses and psychological torture designed to break him down and make an example of the famous Olympian-turned-war hero.
Several years after his return, Zamperini attended one of Billy Graham’s early revivals in Los Angeles and embraced Christianity – a faith that would sustain him for the rest of his life.
Years later, Zamperini wrote a letter of forgiveness to one of his most horrific tormentors, a guard the other prisoners nicknamed “The Bird.”
“Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of readiness to die.” -G.K. Chesterton.
Our thanks to both veterans for their service to our country. May they both rest in the peace of God.