WASHINGTON (CAP) - They came for the burgers and dogs, and stayed for the long-awaited medical attention and benefits. By most accounts, the First Annual Department Of Veterans Affairs Summer Kick-Off Slam was a success.
"The clam chowder was fantastic," said Gulf War veteran Barry Nardone. "And I'm thrilled I won the sack race so I could finally get that psyche eval I've been waiting 15 years for."
Others like disabled veteran Howard Messersmith walked away with a month's supply of Tylenol with Codeine thanks to his blueberry pie-eating skills. He told CAP News he thought the VA did a good job creating a "carnival-like atmosphere" for veterans and their families.
"Seriously, they even had Sloan Gibson dressed up as a clown making animal balloons for the kids and handing out apology cards for the adults," said Messersmith. "It definitely seemed heartfelt, not hokey.
"Uhh, I don't know, maybe that's just the PTSD talking," he added.
As successful as the event was, many complained that there wasn't enough food to go around and what they did get was either undercooked or burnt to a crisp.
"All I wanted was a piece of chicken and after standing in line for three hours they tell me they're all out?" said Afghanistan veteran Michael Kramer. "Just tell me you're out of chicken and I'll go wait in line for potato salad. Is it that hard?"
Organizers had hoped President Obama would stop by but White House sources said he never actually received an invite. At this morning's press briefing, Obama said he "totally would have gone" had he known about it.
"I understand they enjoyed some excellent grilled fare, ice cold beer, ice cream - but no cake!" said Obama. "To the organizers, I say next time - let them eat cake."
Plans are already underway for the VA holiday party and Yankee swap, which veterans of most creeds and faiths are invited to attend. VA officials will publish a list of which religions will be excluded from the holiday party by Thanksgiving.
- CAP News Staff