Veteran Fired For Not Getting Shot


I remember growing up in the 1980s. At that time the Soviet Union was the biggest threat to our freedom. I remember hearing stories about some poor worker who lost his job or home because of some petty offense and thought, “How lucky I am to live in America where that would never happen.”


I joined the military in June of 1990 because I wanted to protect the freedoms that I hold so dear. I was not even through training when, in August, my country went to war. I cannot tell you how proud I was to be in the military at that time.


In December I arrived at the Air Force base in Texas where I would serve most of the remainder of my four-year enlistment. In Basic training I had received many vaccinations and now that I was at my duty base I received several more in preparation for deployment in support of what would be called Operation Desert Storm or the Gulf War. I received a National Service Medal even though the war did not last long enough for me to be deployed. Although I did not get deathly ill and end up in a hospital, I became very sick from all those shots. I had a slow nagging illness where the glands in my neck swelled up to the size of extra large olives. I felt too tired to move and my joints ached.


I did not reenlist in the military. My wife, kids and I moved back to Tennessee where I had grown up. I was born and raised Seventh-day Adventist and after getting out of the military I returned to church for a time.   Looking back on it now I was fanatically strict in my beliefs. It was against my religion to work on the Sabbath and, even though Tennessee is in the Bible Belt, time after time I would not be hired after telling a potential employer that I could not work on that day.


Eventually I got a factory job earning minimum wage polishing truck accessories like stainless steel grills and rails. For eight hours a day I stood in front of a large polishing wheel pulling stainless steel rails back and forth until they shone like mirrors. One morning, after about three weeks of work, I got out of bed to discover I could not even hold a pen to fill out a check to pay a bill.


At the factory I could not hold the rails. I went to the office and told them I was going to have to quit because I could not physically do my job. They were very gracious and instead of letting me go found a less physically demanding job for me in their shipping department. That was better, but after a few months it was also too much for me and I quit because I did not feel I was giving my employer an honest eight hours of work a day.


One of the wealthier members of my church decided to sponsor me to sell religious books and give bible studies. This was much better for me physically, but I found I could not make a living selling bibles in the Bible Belt. One day I rounded the corner for home after giving a bible study only to see pieces of our home scattered all over the yard. While I was away a tornado had destroyed our home with my family inside. That is one of the reasons we moved to Northern Minnesota, someone told my wife there were no tornadoes up here.


By the year 2000 I was still having trouble working a physically demanding job. I went to the local Veterans Services office and applied for disability. This was a long drawn out process. Mister Bean, who worked there at the time, advised me that even though I had the symptoms of Gulf War Syndrome I would have a hard time proving I had it because I had never left the United States during the war. He advised me to try and get a less physically demanding job while I waited to see if I qualified for disability.


My application for disability was denied because some of the required documentation I was supposed to send in did not arrive at the required destination in time.  I had mailed the documents to the wrong government office.   Several months after I had mailed them I received a package from a government official.  Inside the package were my documents with a note that said I must have sent them to the wrong office by mistake.


I did not appeal the denial because, in the meantime, I had found a position as an electronics technician fixing cell phones.  I finally had a job that I could do that paid well enough to put plenty of food on the table. All was well. It was not to last. The cell phone company found out they could fix cell phones cheaper in Mexico, so I was laid off.


Because of the NAFTA agreement I was paid to go to college for two years and I became a Registered Nurse.  One of the blessings about being a nurse is that hospitals do not want to pay overtime, so most hospital nursing positions are part time.  If I do not feel well I can just work my scheduled hours, but if I am doing okay I can work more. Once again life was wonderful.


Until November 10, 2017 when I received notice that since I did not receive my flu shot my employment with Essentia Health is to be terminated on November 20, 2017.


Mandatory Flu Shot

What happened to the CARE in healthcare?