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By Pat Lisi

Dan is a navy veteran of World War II and was stationed in the Pacific.  His job as an engineer was to help develop the energy that went into the making of atomic bombs.  He was aboard ship when the first atomic detonations were conducted in the Southern Atolls where the remoteness of hundreds of small islands made it possible to invent devices that the Japanese, nor the the rest of the world, would know about until it was time for the United States to use it on them.

Dan lives in a Southern Utah city called Saint George.  St. George, Utah is situated 125 miles northeast from where atomic testing was done on the Nevada desert.  To no one’s surprise, Dan has had more types of cancer than you can count on one hand, no doubt caused by the  materials he handled as an engineer for the US Navy. 

Dan’s home is at The Meadows, a nursing home on the south side of Saint George.  Southern Utah is a great place to retire, but these days Dan lives a really simple life within the walls of his room at The Meadows.  He is 93 years old (in 2011). 

Dan qualifies for many VA programs including compensation for his cancers.  He could also get help with his nursing home costs if he was at a certain percentage of disability.  He knows this, but he also is very aware of his age and that it is too late to start making application to the VA.  He could go through Veterans Angels LLC of Southern Utah which would push his claim along, but again at age 93 it is hardly worth the effort. 

Dan told me that he is ready to die.  He claims to be “worn out” and that there is nothing to do anymore.  Going out on the weekly ride to Wal Mart is no longer fun, the games at the home are boring, he doesn’t like to sit and listen to someone else talk, and he is basically ready to let go.  The problem is, Dan is not in all that bad a shape despite his cancer surgeries.  No apparent strokes as you look at him, and aside from losing most of his hearing Dan is doing alright physically.

Mentally, Dan is an old veteran who should have been taken care of long ago by this country.  He was married and his wife brought along 3 kids of hers into the marriage.  His wife died, and Dan named her kids as his new trustees, because he was starting to slip.  In a short amount of time her kids had cleaned out all of Dan’s bank accounts and sold his house in Saint George, Utah and kept that money as well.  A sad story, but certainly not an unusual one.  This is how tons of our elderly veterans are treated, not only just in Southern Utah, but in the United States as a whole.

The days pass slowly for Dan, although he likes to take several naps per day which uses up blocks of time and compresses them into short periods of consciousness.  He watches TV in his room, and waits for the end.

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