Christopher Overfelt, of Veterans for Peace, lives in Kansas City, Mo., and is a member of the PeaceWorks-KC Board. At the May 25 midtown rally “Human Care, Not Warfare,” Overfelt said he served in the Air Force National Guard in Topeka, Kan., from 2002 to 2011 as an aircraft hydraulics mechanic. He deployed to Turkey and Qatar in 2009 in support of Operation Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.
“When I left the military in 2011, I began experiencing severe anxiety,” Overfelt said. He accessed treatment through the Kansas City Veterans Affairs Medical Center. “To this day, I continue to have access to health care through the VA,” he said, “and the care I receive there is top-notch, and something I consider to have saved my life.”
He still has access to VA health care because he qualifies for federal Medicaid (not Medicaid in Kansas). “I cannot overstate how valuable having this access to health care is to me,” he said. He called the care socialized medicine, saying, “To think that we have the capability to provide this level of care to all Americans, but lack only the political will to make it happen, is a travesty.”
Then Overfelt charged, “American politics are governed not by the will of the people, but by the pocketbooks of a few powerful corporations. Last year, the CEO of United Healthcare, one person, received a total compensation of $18 million. United Healthcare, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Cigna, and other health insurance providers all lobby our politicians heavily to ensure that our outdated and unwieldy health care system doesn’t change, and their profits continue to flow. This applies to both Democrat and Republican politicians.
“The United States of America spends over a trillion dollars a year on war, but lacks the political will to save the lives of its own citizens. Since 2001, the beginning of the war on terror, the United States military has dropped an average of 100 bombs every single day, bombs and missiles that can cost $100,000 each. And what results have they produced? More war, more terrorism, a never-ending cycle.
“During my time in the military, I experienced firsthand the futility of the war on terror, and the travesty of military spending. We must as citizens come together, Republican and Democrat, and fight the war machine and end wasteful military spending. We must end the corporate tyranny that has a death grip on our society, and do away with harmful companies like Blue Cross and Blue Shield, United Healthcare, Cigna, that put barriers between people and health care for profit.
“We have the capability to expand Medicaid not only in Kansas and Missouri, but all over the United States, and to all of its citizens. It is only a matter of priorities. Right now, the American government’s priority is on the profits of the corporations who control it. It is up to us to change those priorities and put the lives of our friends and families ahead of corporate profit.”