Education Opportunities for Veterans with Disabilities Workshop

Silver Spring, MD

I attended the Education Opportunities for Veterans with Disabilities Workshop today at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh. We had some really good discussions about what can be done, what needs to be done, and how far we need to go to get it done.

We were given a tour of the rehabilitation wing of the hospital where they work with amputees. I was impressed with the level of care our veterans are receiving, the technology that is being used in both rehab and prosthetics, and especially in the care and concern given by the staff. Many steps have been taken to reduce the administrative burden on the warriors. I must admit that I was glad to be there as a visitor rather than as a patient though!

I have heard of late that some people are not referring to disabled or handicapped people as disabled but rather as differently-abled. While some it might sound as too much political correctness, I assure you, the people I met in the hospital and on the panel, do not consider themselves disabled. They have real injuries including traumatic brain injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder, and even some amputations, but they all seemed to have a can-do attitude. Without a doubt, they have some hurdles to overcome but these people can do it. That is what I love about military people–the difficult will be done today, the impossible will be done by tomorrow.

It was also heartening to see technology being used to positively impact someone’s life in a very direct way. The computer simulation systems to help amputees learn to walk and balance to the technology to help them drive a car to the simulation system that allows them to fire weapons and regain their confidence is what engineering is all about.

Now, an early flight in the morning to get back home.

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