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Posts Tagged ‘Vietnam

Why It Takes More Than A Disabled War Veteran and the Mother of a Child With a Disability To Win My Vote

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by Treadmarkz,

I have encountered fellow citizens of the U.S. who were shocked that I would not be voting for John McCain/Sarah Palin in this year’s election. Astounded, really.

“Don’t you think Sarah Palin, as a mother of a disabled kid, and John McCain, as a disabled War Veteran, would do everything they can for disabled people?”

I have endless respect for McCain’s sacrifice in War, and I know from listening to my mother talk about raising me what Palin must go through to get her child what he needs to live the life she wants for him. So this is a valid question. Sure Palin is the mother of a child with Down Syndrome. But I don’t know what she would do as a leader. I mean if my own mother were in the White House, I have a good idea of the laws that she would want changed and I would trust her judgement. But I don’t know enough about Palin to know if I trust the things that she would have pushed for as VP. And nobody can know what’s best for all the different kinds of disabled people. So you have to vote for the overall best choice you have available. And I believe I did.

And besides that, any change that was made on behalf of disabled people would have to be voted on by the law-making bodies of our government, not just installed by Palin OR McCain. I know that is how it works under Bush/Cheney but we are back to reality now. In that respect I know that disabled people are just as well off under Obama as we would have been with Palin or McCain.

I told the person that asked me this that sometimes it is better if people that have a little distance from the issue make the decision. And what I meant was that if we want this to be a fair and balanced country, the laws and “changes” need to be made by people without self-interest in the issues.

And speaking of self-interest, despite an earlier posting in which I noted that Obama was the only candidate that mentioned disabled people on his Web site, I know that there are issues that are infinitely more important to this country than whether I get accessibility to certain buildings, etc. Such as the issue of whether I get to keep getting my health care for free while others don’t have health care at all. Such as whether my president is going to stop or continue isolating us from the rest of the world. Whether he is going to take the time to read the CIA reports about potential attacks. Whether my president is going to make education a priority for everyone. Whether he is going to tax the people who have the money to spare (the facts don’t lie, if you actually paid attention to what McCain and Obama were saying). The list goes on and on.

The point is that I am a citizen of this country and I care about the things that everyone else does. So it took more than two people with direct connections with disabilities to get my vote. That is why I voted for Obama.

A Time Machine with Hand Controls, Episode IV: The ADA Becomes a Law

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by Treadmarkz

The ADA is a complex piece of legislation. I will not try to comment on or cover everything that is in it. But in this episode of “A Time Machine with Hand Controls, you will see the steps that were taken over a period of 25 years which led to the signing of the ADA in 1990.

Because the ADA was just an extension of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which did not cover discrimination based on disability. So really what this means is that from 1964 to 1990, it was illegal to discriminate based on color gender, age, etc, but if you were in a wheelchair or were blind, or an amputee, or had any of a wide range of mental disabilities, you were not covered, you were not protected by the U.S. Government. That is part of why the only disabled people you saw out in public were the homeless Vietnam War veterans in wheelchairs out on the street begging for money. The opportunity to be a full, thriving successful member of society was extremely limited.

In 1973 things got better with the Rehabilitation Act, but even this only pertained to programs conducted by Federal agencies. It did not protect anyone from discrimination in every day life. Jobs, accessibility to buildings where one may conduct every day business, take part in social activities, entertainment, etc.  After the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, the disabled could now get government jobs and receive benefits of government programs, but those programs were limited at the time. Accessibility to public buildings, public transportation, and employment in the public sector was not open to folks with disabilities until 1990.

In 1986, the National Council on Disability demanded that one law be passed protecting the rights of all people with disabilities. But we all know how slow federal government works on these kinds of things. It still took a couple of years. In fact the first draft of the ADA was written in 1988, two years before it passed.

Around this same time, the Civil Rights Act was rewritten to include people living on Federal Funds, i.e., people on Social Security, which did in fact cover a lot of people with disabilities. But not all of them.

The Fair Housing Act also came in 1988, and made discrimination against the disabled in public housing illegal, which in itself led to more accessible apartment buildings. But really it just said that land lords could not decline someone rental based on their disability.

So as you can see, the ADA really came together in a slow, choppy process, in pieces, over time, culminating in 1988 when many things were happening for the disabled at one time and somebody noticed it and said “Hey, why don’t we give these people some Civil Rights” while we are at it?”

Good idea.

A Time Machine With Hand Controls, Episode II – The Vietnam War

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by Treadmarkz

After the Vietnam War, almost 200,000 people came back home with a variety of debilitating war injuries and disabilities. They were amputees, they were blinded by flying shrapnel, they were deaf from unprotected ears during bombings, they were paraplegic, they were quadriplegic and they were mentally disabled from the stresses and horrors of the war.

But they came home.

With them, came a long list of socioeconomic issues that the country had not been confronted with since the down days of the Depression.

The Disabled American Veterans of the World War, established in 1920 had helped the 200,000 injured and disabled survivors of WWI. Of this number, those that suffered a permanent disability experienced the same troubles, joblessness, homelessness, alcoholism, etc. But many of them ended up in a mental institution or a home for the disabled, because their was no real other way to help them.

But for the vets of the Vietnam War, they came home without much in the way of benefits. Much less than their WWII counterparts received. Much of the social activism of the late 1960s and early 1970s can be attributed to the living conditions of the veterans. The first Vet Centers were not established until 1979. It took that long for veterans of WWII and any remaining disabled survivor of WWI, who were experiencing much of the same trouble that the Vietnam vets were, to get help.

Alcohol and drug use among veterans were rampant. These problems led to homelessness. I think we’ve all seen what has become somewhat of a stereotype, a man in a wheelchair on a street corner with the sign scribbled in permanent black marker on a piece of flattened cardboard box: “Disabled Veteran, Please Help” or something to that effect, with a bucket in his lap for any spare change he may receive from a generous passerby. This started after the Vietnam War. Before that, people in wheelchairs were rarely seen in public.

Terrible as their situation was, it took the story of the disabled from being buried in the back section to a big bold headline on the front page. For it was in the 1970s when legislation began to work its way through that made employment opportunities more accessible to the disabled, leading in part to the ADA, improvements in wheelchair technology and wheelchair athletic associations. It had to be so.

Thousands of the prospective young workforce, a workforce that once made this country thrive, were maimed, and therefore inactive. There had to be a way to get these people back into the world as the productive members of society that we are today. Because the country was in a major recession by the latter part of the seventies. In fact you might say that the many disabled who came back from the Vietnam War, needing employment contributed to the push-button workforce that is so prominent today. The Jetsons called it in 1962! It’s not push-button finger but carpal tunnel syndrome that we of the desk job suffer from in this modern age.

A Time Machine With Hand Controls, Preview of Episode II

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by Treadmarkz,

Sticking with the theme of war from my last posting, it’s time for another adventure with me, the backwards traveler, the ancient four-wheeled rambler as I roll across the space-time continuum to give a little insight as to the living conditions of the disabled throughout history.

Join me, won’t you, as I visit a magical land called “America-After-the-Vietnam-War”.

Stay tuned…