Every warm-blooded American – Democrats, Republicans and Independents – should hang our heads in shame when we have fellow Americans, fellow human beings, who are pushed to such limits that they feel that their last resort for getting healthcare is to go to jail.
That is the story of James Richard Verone, a 59-year-old man who worked for the Coca-Cola Company for 17 years. Verone prided himself for his work and his dedication to the company, but after he lost his job 3 years ago, he had to take other work to make ends meet. His last job as a convenience store clerk was a strain and magnified the different ailments Verone suffered from. His back hurt and problems with his left foot caused him to limp. He suffered from arthritis in his fingers and carpal tunnel syndrome. He soon lost that job because he was physically unable to perform his duties and then the reality of his situation set in… Verone was unemployed, no savings and no healthcare.
With his options reduced, Verone turned to the government, but all he qualified for was food stamps. The triggering point was when he noticed a growth on his chest. He had a plan, and began implementing it.
As his bank account depleted and the day of execution got closer, Verone sold and donated his furniture. He paid his last month’s rent and gave his notice.
He moved into the Hampton Inn for the last couple of days. Then on June 9 he followed his typical morning routine of getting ready for the day.
He took a cab down New Hope Road and picked a bank at random — RBC Bank.
Verone didn’t want to scare anyone. He executed the robbery the most passive way he knew how. He handed the teller a note demanding one dollar, and medical attention.
“I didn’t have any fears,” said Verone. “I told the teller that I would sit over here and wait for police.”
The teller, however, did have some fears even though Verone never showed a weapon. Her blood pressure shot up and once Verone was handcuffed by police, the teller was taken to Gaston Memorial Hospital to be checked out. Verone said he was sorry for causing the woman any pain.
He has a lot to say on the subject of socialized medical care. He suspects he wouldn’t be talking to a reporter through a metal screen wearing an orange jumpsuit if such an option were available in the U.S.
“If you don’t have your health you don’t have anything,” said Verone.
The man has high hopes with his recent incarceration.
He has seen several nurses and has an appointment with a doctor Friday.
It’s something we say all the time when we want to show America’s exceptionalism – only in America. “Only in America is my story possible,” we would say… or “only in America will you find all these opportunities.” But the ‘only in America’ phrase is also true for Verone’s story, for no other advanced nation on earth would have citizens who have to commit a crime to get health care. Only in America.
Meanwhile, Republicans are promising to repeal health care reform…