Thursday, May 3, 2012

Paper Research: VA Meeting

Mom had a few of these process logs in her folder. They're sort of logs that document her research for her spring 1994 paper From Dependence to Independence. Instead of a log, though, it's more of a mini-paper that is interesting on its own.

The photo is of Mom and Dad in Bennington, Vermont, on a 2006 trip out to see us here.

Friday, I had a meeting with a Mr. Phil Ross, readjustment counselor at the Vet Center in Cedar Rapids. It was very interesting to speak with him. I showed him my outline that I prepared for class. He fully agreed with everything that I had said. I think that he also was interested in the different perspective of a disabled person.

The difference between the one who was recently disabled and the individual like myself who has come up through the system, so to speak. He did say something interesting about the existing attitudes. With the newly disabled they have a before and after approach. Before, I could do this, I felt this, now after, I feel this. The disabled from birth have no flashback, no delusions. They also have a preconceived attitude put there by well-meaning adults that they have a place in this world and it is not in the leadership role. Many times it isn't even in the following role. Most times, unfortunately, they weren't in the running at all.

Without the original chance to try out intelligence, so to speak, we lost ground in the battle. Now we have some strong individuals in the forefront showing what they can do. Most of them, however, are the newly disabled. These are the ones who have had some formal education. We need more of the strong individuals who have come through the ranks of the educational system. I feel very strongly that I have seen both worlds. Having the good fortune of a strong family education ethic, I was able to get that good basic education. Unfortunately, still, great things were not expected of me. My mother felt that if I passed, or got by, that was good enough. To make a long story short, I wish I would have gone after the better grades, like I am now. I know that I could have done it. Maybe ended up at the top of the class; Wouldn't that have been something. If we knew then what we know now. How many kids have said that?

Mr. Ross agreed with me that the Vietnam War created so many disabled young men and women because of the modern medical personnel sent to the front lines and the quick evacuation methods. Men and women lived when they perhaps shouldn't have and wouldn't have in earlier wars. With the government backing and Congressional sympathies in their direction, money was no object when it came to inventiveness in the appliances for these men.

Much of the bracing and the new wheelchairs were invented through the military for the military. Some of these new wheelchairs can fold quickly with ease and stored in the back seat by the person in the chair. Years ago, even when they were folded, they were difficult to handle. They have also become narrower, hence easier to maneuver everywhere. The severe disabled have really advanced with the electronic chairs and chair lifts into the van. A lot of this has also progressed through the military. The new and improved hand controls were perfected by the military. Here again, it was out of necessity, I'm sure, that these were invented in the first place. The vets knew how to drive and knew about cars, hence it wouldn't take long to be very inventive.

The advances in prosthetics alone have improved life of the artificial limb user. Many times they can simulate the actual leg. Sometimes they can get so proficient at walking that it is difficult to tell if you don't know. There are many unseen areas of improvement that we don't know about.

Not the least of which is the exposure. They are really responsible for bringing disabilities to the forefront. We missed the chance with President Roosevelt, as no one knew of the extent of his disability. Even today, it is difficult for me to realize what he must have gone through from his critics. Maybe it was too early in the game for some discussion with him on his disability. Maybe the country wasn't ready for this. They were still viewed as disabled helpless and no brain.

I feel that my visit was very profitable. If for no other reason than the fact that he not only agreed with me, he supported the conclusion that I came to. Now to get to the writing portion of it.

I feel that my introduction will be lengthy. I will try to make it a story and keep it interesting. I believe that it will be quite personal and from my point of view. The conclusion, too, will follow a personal line. I will show what I have done with my life and what I plan to do in the future. It should tie all of this together. Writing the paper isn't really my problem. All the mechanics that go along with it. The collecting the reference materials, then putting them down in proper order on the Works cited lists is what frightens me. I never seem to get it down right. There seems to be something stupid that I leave out, or don't do right. I wish sometimes that I could have someone look at it then I can finish it.

In short, I have all the ideas, it is getting them down on paper in the proper form that is my problem. I also tend to ramble on and lose some of my sentence structure. Then when it is read to me, it sounds OK because that is the way I talk and sound and I knew what I meant.

I may have to have someone else do my final read on it. I'm not sure who that would be because I don't want too many opinions. I guess I'll just keep working on it.

Connie, March 5, 1994

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