What branch did you serve in? HRC 57/100

23 September, 2016 | Index

Dear Hillary Clinton,

Gerard Mclean here, from Englewood, Ohio, just north of Dayton. This is the fifty-seventh letter of one hundred I am writing you on health care; one for each day between your nomination and your election. The previous letters can be found in your USPS mailbox or online at 100HRC.com

I saw yesterday that you wrote an article about building an inclusive economy and valuing the work people with disabilities contribute. I’d like to share a story, if you’ll indulge me.

A few months back, I went to the local Kroger and I was having a bit of a go trying to steady myself with my cane and wrench the carts apart. Uninvited, an older woman stepped in and separated the carts for me, after which I thanked her.

“What branch did you serve in?” she asked me.

“Oh, I’m sorry, ma’am,” I replied. “This is not a war injury, just my nerves going haywire for a spell. Thank you for the help.”

In that very moment, she contorted her face in disgust and walked away, like I had offended her. I don’t look old enough to need a cane. This was not the first time I had encountered this reaction. Apparently, the only disability recognized as legitimate by this community is an injury incurred through military service. Everyone else is a “taker,” faking it or weak. I live in a very proud, military town.

I could just lie and say, “Marine Corps, ma’am,” after which she would undoubtedly thank me for my service and feel good she helped a vet instead of feeling like I “put one over on her good deed.” But I won’t lie.

Thank you for letting me share. Suffering a disability — regardless of how it happened — should not be shamed. We need SinglePayer, MedicareForAll, UniversalCare where anyone who needs it can get medical care and we can stop this attitude about the ranking worthiness of disabilities.


Gerard McLean
cc: Sen. Sherrod Brown