Galesburg Register-Mail from Galesburg, Illinois on April 24, 1973 · Page 7
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Galesburg Register-Mail from Galesburg, Illinois · Page 7

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Galesburg, Illinois
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Tuesday, April 24, 1973
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Page 7
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Peace? Disabled Veterans^ War Doesn^t End Because IVs Over Golesburg Register-Moil, Golesburg, III. Tuesday, April 24, 1973 ? By TOM TIEDE NEW YORK (NEA) - Tyrone Thompson says he never went to Vietnam for the gbary. And that's a good thing, "because there was no glory, at least not for me." He went because, well, hell, "it was better than jail." But now, sitting in a wheelchair, unable to move his body from the waist down, he has to wonder about the wisdom of his wartime choice. OH MAN, he says, what could have been worse than this? Thompson, now 27, a black man with a spriggly beard and a handsome beret, one of the wounds of Vietnam that shall never heal. Soldiers come home, lives are restarted, peaceful rhetoric rings from on high, but none of it makes much difference to Ty Thompson. Seven years ago in the Nam his spinal cord was severed during an ene- mjr ambush — and it will ^re- ma'in thus for the remainder of his Hte. Peace? What peace? For Thompson and others like him the war doesn't end merely because it is over. There are, unfortunately, significant numbers of others like Thompson. No one knows exactly how many. The Disabled American Veterans Association reports that 340,000 Vietnam era veterans are receiving some compensation today, but that figure includes a majority who have been only slightly damaged thus only slightly scarred. Thompson represents perhaps 2,500 to 3,000 Vietvets who have suffered spinal cord (read it 'critical') injury, and there are thousands of others who have lost eyes, legs, arms or other uses of their bodies. IT HAS, of course, always been thus in war. But tlie peculiar nature, if not to say odor, -of the Vietnam conflict seems to emphasize the head- shaking tragedy of the contemporary maimed veteran. After other American wars the permanently injured could at least salvage some satisfac- Battle Continues As a paraplegic, Tyrone Thompson cannot of 10 to 15 years less than the national norm, walk, cannot work and has a life expectancy priority jobs preference over veterans. There is one government program, for example, that offers tax credits to employers of the hardcore unemployed. Well obviously, then, if a guy has got 20 openings he's going to fill them with 20 hardcore unemployed — why should he hire a disabled Vet if he can get federal compensation for hiring others?" Bad as it is, the unemployment puzzle is only one of the Durdens being shared by seriously disabled Vietnam veterans. An even more aggravating one, especially for the v/heelchaired victim, is the ancient obstacle of public accommodation. Wheelchairs cannot negotiate stairs, cannot leap into buses, cannot squeeze through the narrow doors of many restaurants, cannot block the aisles at movie theaters. Handicapped people have been complaining for generations about such "exclusionary facilities," to no serious avail. "DAMMIT," SAYS the PVA's Jim Maye, "I'm a taxpaying citizen and I think I tion from the knowledge they got what they got for a m'ore or less necessary battle. Today, says one paraplegic. "The only thing we know is that we got what we got for this damn 'peace with honor.' " Besides this, the American public has not helped. It too has been long soured on Vietnam and, some say, those who participated in it. Evidence is that many people simply want to forget about the whole blasted thing — and forget about anyone who reminds them of the whole blasted thing. Hence the guy in the wheelchair gets little mileage rattling his medals; in fact, says James Maye of the Paralyzed Veterans Association, the disabled vet is "being shunted aside and forgotten. People look at us as losers. They subconsciously put us out of their minds. And as time passes we think this treatment is going to get worse." INDEED. RECENTLY the Veterans Administration compiled a study concerning the merits of compensation to disabled veterans. Its findings indicated the maimed chaps were all but dripping with government granted wealth, thus slight reductions might be in order. Slight? Ron Drach, a I'legged Vietvet now working with the DAV, says his monthly compensation, under the VA proposal, would be cut from $570 to $124. Needless to say Drach was not happy with the V.A. report and protested bitterly. So did thousands of other handicapped Vietvets. And the V.A., slightly humiliated, almost with apologies, withdrew the proposition with uncharacteristic haste. Why gamble with hall? Crop losses from hail can be enough to make a grown man cry. But you can stay dry-eyed with a crop hail insurance policy from Country Mutual. Consider these facts: VVe've reduced rates on corn and soybeans in many counties; "deductibles" offer extra savings; and Country Mutual offers a choice of plans—regular, blanket, all-risk. So why gamble? Make sure you have Country Mutual crop hail protection. Country Mutual-one of the Country Companies. We're a little different than most Insurance people. Your Country Companies, AgOnt COUNTRY LIFE • COUNTRY MUTUAL • COUNTRY CASUALTY MID-AMERICA FIRE ANO MARINE • INSURANCE COMPANIES 98 N. SEMINARY — GALESBURG Phone 342-3168 But even though compensation cuts are no longer expected, and even if the future is to be no worse than the present for seriously disabled Vietvets, things will be bad encugh. John Keller, National Service director of the DAV, says America is going through the most lamentable "Tommy Atkins syndrome" he has seen after any war. ATKINS WAS the Rudyard Kipling soldier who was "up front when there was trouble in the wind," but always afterwards it was "Tommy this and Tommy that and Tommy get behind." The disabled Vietnam Tommies, says Keller, are way, way behind in today's American conscience. The public, says DAV director of employment Norm Hartnett, is simply not responding to the disabled vet with rea- sonablo concern. Take employment. He says over-all Vietvet unemployment has leveled off at 6 per cent, but the disabled veteran rate may be as high as 25 per cent and the figure among paralyzed veterans may be as high, as shocking, as one in two. "This isn't because they don't want to work," says Hartnett, "but because nobody wants to hire them." Why? Some emplovers worry (incorrectly) that their insur- anc3 rates would gy up. Others I don't want to spend time matching the man to the job. Still others, frankly, simply refuse to bother with the idea of having cripples in their plants ("Well, what if they gzl hurt or somathlng?"). AND EVEN IF the employer is not prejudiced, Hartnett adds, he has no special ; incentive for hiring the seriously disabled. "I get damn mad when I see every mi' nority group in the country ' (blacks, women, etc.) take Think- (Continued Fiom Page 6) "It's got all the extras, no doubt about that. But where's the motor?" "That's the beauty of it- there isn't any motor. Therefore, it isn't dependent on gasoline." "Then how does it run?" A Horse Pulls It "Now we are getting to the, engineering breakthrough that; made it all possible. A horse i pulls it." ; I just stood there a moment' in stunned silence. I "That's so ingenious I'm' j surprised the Japanese didn't i : think of it first," 1 said finally. I "What are you going to call! it?" "We haven't given it a name yet, mainly because something; is still missing. That's why all! these technicians are going! over it. They're trying to figure! !out what is needed to make it i complete." ' "That's it!" the technicians cried in unison. i Harkenback, almost in tears, wrung my hand in gratitude and promised I would get a share of the royalties. The last time I checked, theyj still hadn't decided on a name , but were thinking of calling it a "gasless carriage." Which also would make a good song title. (Continued on Page 11) NOW Union Opticol Co. Feoturing UNION OPTICAL PLAN UNION MEMBERS BRING YOUR UNION CARDS MOST FOR YOUR OPTICA! DOLLAR '75th" Year Since 189B" PHOTOGRAY & PHOTOSUN LENSES Thrv barken and Clear Auloinalically WUh The Changing Light Contact Lens & Glasses Dispensed "THE on Prescription of Everetf Beoth, O.D. ft Dr. OVER 2000 STYLES OF EYEGLASSES FROM THE LOWEST PRICED TO THE FINEST AVAILABLE INCLUDING HUNDREDS OF NEW METAL STYLES. "oold Corpef Service" Gives You A One Year Warranty Eyeglass Repair and Replacement # Eyes Examined. 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