From the Editor
"In a perfect world"
I’m going all “in a perfect world” on you now. The ads you see asking to donate to charities for people with disabilities are everywhere. I would like to propose what providing these services would be like – in a perfect world. Lately, the Wounded Warrior Project has been on the stations I watch. And regardless of their problems in the past with extravagant parties, I still have a problem with them.
American charitable efforts directed at people with disabilities began in the early 1800’s. Philanthropy had to step in where there were no social programs. But there is a fine line between paternalism and empowerment. The disabled were viewed as dependent and in need of help or saving. This carried into the 1950’s with the March of Dimes and their use of a “poster child”. Two of these children, Ron Mace and Cindy Jones, were unhappy in how they were used to raise money, regardless of the beneficial results of the campaign. Both grew up to be disability rights activists.
I grew up with the Muscular Dystrophy Telethons where people with disabilities were paraded as a pity party. Many of them have spoken out about the experience as adults.
Which brings me back to Wounded Warriors. These commercials are particularly pity worthy, often with parents tearing up. I am not the only one who thinks any service member that was wounded with life changing injuries as a result of serving in the armed forces should not be subjected to begging for funds for resources and services like a poster child. These services should be something that every American is responsible for. Part of the burden of having a military for protection should include the coverage of their needs after service. Not just medical care, but other needs as well; Adaptive housing, Assistive Technology, Peer groups, etc. This truly is not a place a charity should have to step in and provide support. It continues a stigma that wounded service members who once did incredible thing are now forever damaged and in need of help. They are neither heroic nor broken. They are people that we have invested who still have a lot of potential. They way they are portrayed on the screen is often the way they will be thought of in the community. We can do better.
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