FEBRUARY 4, 1955
NEW YORK—I had a letter the other day, or rather it was a memorandum, from Admiral William F. Halsey (U.S.N., Ret.). The admiral is appealing for aid to train blind veterans and to get them jobs when trained.
There are tax-supported benefits, of course, and there is a certain amount of compensation. Also, there are books in braille, free plastic eyes and some instruction and training. What is lacking, however, is follow-through.
A blinded veteran needs specialized individual guidance and help to find and keep a suitable job. The government has not been able to do this since budget reorganization eliminated specialized regional workers who had been trained at considerable public expense. This, therefore, is the work which the Blinded Veterans Association plans to take up, and it will have to cover the whole of the United States.
The association will draw aid from various sources, but it needs the support of everyone of us to help get money from local community chests and from individuals.
I have read some of the pathetic letters that have come into the organization's offices. Here is one of them:
"I am again writing to you to see if you had any luck in finding me work. The main reason that I write is to let you know that I do not have the money to keep me going. If I did return to school, are you sure of finding me work? The VA tells me they can't find anything for me. So, Sir, I have been after the VA for eleven years and still it is the same thing.
"I would like to know if you could get me in a plant anywhere. I am told the General Motors in Ohio hire the handicapped at their Cleveland plant. Maybe you could try at that plant. I see by the BVA bulletin they do hire some blind persons. Maybe you can try in the Ohio plant or anywhere. I do get tired of sitting around and doing nothing. I hope to hear from you.
"Also, Sir, I wish you could let me know the detail on school. Well, Sir, if you have time, maybe you can try other things to find me work."
The blind, of course, have to be trained in order to be able to work. But, when trained, they are well able to support themselves and should not be made to feel that they are not carrying their own weight in the community. We are constantly trying to educate business to the value of employing handicapped people and we hope that this lesson soon will be so well understood that no handicapped people will find it difficult to obtain work in this country.
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I have been asked to mention the fact that the Hospital Reading Society, which donates reading material to hospitals and poor schools in the South, has been doing this work for over 80 years. The society would be glad to receive books or money so that it can carry on its important services in the areas of rehabilitation and of poverty. Donations may be sent to 105 East 22nd Street, New York City.