P.J. Dodge lives in Jacksonville, Florida, with her husband. Her father was a disabled veteran who has spent much of his life fighting for his veterans benefits and for the compensation he felt he had coming to him. Her veteran husband was diagnosed with cancer and with PTSD, and also has tried to receive veterans benefits and appropriate compensation. He continues to fight for his benefits today and the government continues to deny his compensation claims.
Dodge wrote Why? (Page Publishing, 245 pp., $14.95, paper; $9.99, Kindle) when she realized that her father’s and husband’s problems with the VA were “not isolated instances but experiences many of our Veterans continually faced.”
Why?, a novel, is heavily based on the real-life experiences of the author, her husband, and her father. It is meant, she writes, to bring to light “the plight of so many that will not speak out but are fighting for medical, psychological, and monetary help.”
The novel starts off with a sentence that sets the tone for the entire book: “When Raoul showed up at the VA for his appointment to try to fast-track his benefits request, he knew deep down in his heart it was a lost cause.”
The band of veterans who make up the main crew of this novel seem mostly to have been Rangers, Green Berets, SEAL,s and members of other elite military units. No clerks and jerks allowed.
The story line, in a nutshell, consists of setting up a new My Lai massacre, but this time a massacre aimed at eliminating those who run the VA. Why? Because those VA people are responsible for siphoning off funds intended for needy veterans and using those funds for their own lives as fat cats, driving big flashy cars, wearing three-piece suits, and eating expensive meals at the taxpayers’ expense.
The message of the book is that “our enemy is the VA.” The level of animosity toward the VA is high and is unremitting. Shooting VA doctors is mentioned as though it is a reasonable thing to do. “John Wayne and the Calvary” are mentioned as co-conspirators, and that is how “cavalry” is spelled in the book.
I gave up counting the mentions of beer and Jim Beam consumed in the course of this story line. Food and drink dominate this narrative, but not to the extent that firearms do, such as “two M79 grenade launchers and a .50 cal. Machine gun.”
The heart of the bitterness of this book is that those of us who went to war “to keep their precious offspring out of danger” came back and were made to feel like second-class citizens and were attacked.
Those who need a book that preaches this message should get this one.
Those who have received good care at the VA—and I am quick to say that I have—would do well to steer clear.