An Open Letter to President Donald Trump

An Iowan living with disabilities wants to know: “How can you help me become a productive, taxpaying member of society?” -promoted by desmoinesdem

Dear President Trump:

I’m disabled due to a brain injury, heart problems and PTSD from an abusive marriage. I live on $735 per month Supplemental Security Income (a Social Security program), $138 in food stamps, and—thank God—I receive Medicaid. And thank God as well that my home is almost paid off, because today I couldn’t afford my own apartment on that income.

Because many of your supporters feel I’m a “drain” on the system, I’d like to tell you how I’ve spent my time on what some like to call “entitlements.”

I used to be a chemical dependency counselor. When I suffered my brain injury 22 years ago, my sons knew I felt as if I had no purpose in life. So they decided they would bring some of their troubled schoolmates home to see if I could help them.

Today I have around 20 what I call “pseudokids,” younger adults who now have become respectable, productive members of society. Eight of these joined the military. I saved either their parents or Medicaid approximately $200,000 just on the cost of drug rehab alone, not to mention aftercare and continued counseling.

But when my sons graduated high school, they could no longer bring me their friends to help. So I needed a new purpose in life, another way to contribute. My brain injury makes it difficult to find the right words at times, slows down my thought processing, and makes it harder to remember what happened in a group session that I would need to document about after the group session is over. If I could handle the paperwork at a faster pace, I thought, I could still go back to work in my former profession. In fact, I tried to undertake vocational rehabilitation to see if they could help me figure out ways to manage the paperwork so I could return to work.

What Vocational Rehabilitation did was to send me for IQ testing (it was 126; I’m not stupid, I just have the issues listed above), and then send me to work for Goodwill. I couldn’t stand the mindless piecework and quit. Voc Rehab said there was nothing else they could do for me.

Instead, I started driving cancer patients to doctor appointments. And that was very fulfilling—until my car broke down and I couldn’t afford to fix it, a common problem for many on the lower rungs of our economy.

Not long after that, my mom’s Parkinson’s made it increasingly difficult for her to serve as caregiver for my dad, who is an amputee above the knee from bone cancer. Dad’s also had a stroke and he’s diabetic. So I decided it was time to begin to take care of both of them. I started out just doing some things mom couldn’t do anymore, but today it’s getting to the point that it’s more than I can handle, and they may have to go to a nursing home at great financial expense to taxpayers and personal expense to both me and my parents.

As you can see, I’m not lazy, and if I’m “mooching off the system” (I’m not), I’m still doing everything I can to pay it forward.

In the meantime, I’ve been trying to figure out what I can do. Maybe I could start a small business? The problem with that, though, is that unless I could make at least $3,500 a month, I couldn’t replace my food stamps, SSI and, especially, my Medicaid—my medicine alone costs about $1,100 per month, without which I’d likely be dead. And with congressional Republicans about to repeal the Affordable Care Act, even an income of $3,500 might not be enough to pay the skyrocketing premiums for health insurance, provided any insurer would even underwrite my pre-existing conditions in the first place.

Unfortunately, I can’t see myself being able to make that much, at least not with the skills and limitations I have currently. I therefore ask you, Mr. President: How can you help me become a productive, taxpaying member of society? Or, barring that, what will you do to stop those all of those people—your supporters, largely—that consider me an economic parasite from bullying me?

I’m sure there are many others like me. And I’m sure they’d like to hear some answers to these questions as well.

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