Monday, January 9, 2012

After WWII, vet endured a life of shell shock

This shows we've come a long way since the days when veterans came home suffering in silence. It also shows how we still don't do the right thing by all of our veterans.

After WWII, vet endured a life of shell shock

By Elizabeth Shestak
Posted: Monday, Jan. 09, 2012

When Bill Johnson returned from World War II, his family immediately knew there was something different about him.

In letters his mother wrote to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, she spoke of his restlessness, inability to hold a conversation, difficulty making friends, and new behavioral ticks.

"If you could know this boy now and before he went in the service, you couldn't believe it was the same boy. It is hard on me to watch him every day with no improvement. I have hoped so hard," she wrote.

She wrote this in 1950, nearly five years after he was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army after serving a tour in Italy. His family, namely his mother, spent decades petitioning the U.S. Army to acknowledge the changes in Johnson and claim them as service-related. It seemed simple to them - he was one way before entering the army, and another afterwards, going from "normal" to debilitated and dependent.

And yet his mental injuries were deemed 30 percent "non-service related," and Johnson was never compensated.
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