MARCH 18, 1948
HYDE PARK, Wednesday—Every now and then a human-interest story comes to me through the mail. I want to tell you today about a veteran of World War I who has less than 10 percent vision, yet manages to support himself and to help other veterans to do so.
Chicago is his home and, at 1543 East 63rd Street, he operates an ex-servicemen's exchange where he has on sale "veteran-made handicraft gifts and novelties." These things are mostly inexpensive, and the commission is small but the disabled veterans who make them supply a great variety. Behind every article sold there is the story of some man who is struggling to make something useful out of his civilian life after giving a part of himself to the defense of his country.
The wife of the veteran who operates this store wrote me about it, inviting me to come and visit them, in the hope that by doing so I would attract other people who would find things they could order there. Unfortunately, I have no plans for visiting Chicago, so I tell this story in the hope that somebody else may go and investigate. And if the picture is as this woman has painted it, perhaps there will be things that people can buy to help along veterans who want to retain their self-respect and their sanity. No man can sit in idleness and feel he is a burden to those around him, and remain entirely normal.
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Now I must tell you of a conference recently held in Chicago by the Committee for the Nation's Health, which published a report of a discussion on rural health needs in which rural young people participated. Each represented one of the large farm organizations.
They told what their organizations were trying to do to improve rural health. They also told about health needs among the children of farmers which were not being met, and they did not spare their elders in pointing out some of the errors of our ways where health is concerned.
There are 13,000,000 children under 15 years of age who live in isolated rural counties. Hospitals, doctors and preventive medical services are scarce indeed in these counties.
The discussion pointed up the fact that, in many rural areas, when defects are found in children by a school doctor's examination, their parents often have no way of having those defects remedied—either the money is not available or they have no doctor of their own to whom to turn. Some of the facts brought out pointed very clearly to the need of government help and some kind of organized arrangement for the payment of doctors and nurses and hospital bills.