MARCH 6, 1943
CHICAGO, Friday—In the course of the last few days I received a letter which interested me very much. For a long time I have watched the development of occupational therapy in hospitals and the rehabilitation of partially handicapped people. They must become independent and, at the same time, have the mental stimulus which comes from feeling that, through their own exertion, they have mastered something which is difficult. When this once has been accomplished it is never so hard to do again.
I have always been grateful to enlightened people in industry who were willing to find jobs suited particularly to men disabled in different ways.
Now that we are at war and casualities are beginning to come back to our hospitals in ever increasing numbers, this whole question becomes infinitely more important. The ordinary rehabilitation program falls rather naturally under the supervision of some part of the Social Security setup.
The letter which I have just received, and which comes from a member of of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, contends, however, that support should be given to Bill HR 801, which would keep vocational training for disabled veterans of this war under supervision of the Veterans Administration. The writer goes on to explain that disabled veterans will require different training in many cases, because they will suffer not from one disability alone, but very often from a much more severe mental disability than the average person handicapped in civilian life.
He pictures wounded men in the Philippines who have gone through a period of imprisonment, jungle fighting and the complications arising from some tropical disease. All in all, it makes me realize that we are going to have a more difficult problem than we had at the end of the last war. In addition, it will be far greater numerically.
I have been through enough hospitals myself to realize how many factors enter into complete recovery in cases where there is a permanent handicap to be faced. To many a sensitive boy, I imagine the first battle must be fought to overcome his distaste for the handicap, whatever it may be. Then he must overcome the feeling that the distaste he has felt also affects those he loves and are nearest to him.
This is a psychological problem for doctors, families and teachers. We owe it to these boys to do for them the wisest and best thing possible. I hope we are thinking far enough ahead to prepare adequate facilities and to use the best talent available in medical science.