Forgotten No Longer; Honoring America's Disabled veterans.(OPED)

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), November 11, 2002 | Go to article overview

Forgotten No Longer; Honoring America's Disabled veterans.(OPED)


Byline: Lois Pope, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

As Veterans Day arrives amid talk of yet another war, Americans should stop to remember and honor our forgotten warriors - the more than 2.3 million living disabled veterans, whose service to the nation spans nearly a century from World War I through the Gulf War and more recent military actions.

My first encounter with disabled veterans came when I was a singer and actress on Broadway. I was asked to perform in a benefit at the Rusk Rehabilitation Center in New York City. The sight of quadriplegics, amputees and other disabled veterans who gathered to watch the show, and the emotion and hope in their faces as I sang "Somewhere" from the musical "West Side Story," left a powerful impression.

Years later, after finding my cousin's name etched in the black granite of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, I acted on my dream to help those who have given so much for our nation. In concert with Arthur Wilson, national adjutant of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) organization, and the late Honorable Jesse Brown, then-secretary of the Department of Veterans' Affairs, I formed the Disabled Veterans' LIFE Memorial Foundation to build a national monument to the millions of veterans who became disabled while defending our American freedom.

I have since learned much about the obstacles faced and sometimes overcome by our disabled veterans. I have seen that disability is an equal-opportunity affliction. It touches the lives of men and women of all races and backgrounds and impacts veterans of all wars. Many of our forgotten heroes suffer massive disability - 60 percent or higher - while others live among us with lesser degrees of incapacity, making them less visible and easier to overlook.

As Americans, we owe our disabled veterans a debt of both gratitude and honor. They answered the call when our nation needed them. …

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