The New York Times published an article on August 24th titled “Remembering Veterans Who Were Wounded”. You can read it here.
Perhaps its persnickety of me to point out the distinction between my title and the Times’ headline but my point is simple—disability is forever. Even if some days you feel better than others; even if you learn to walk with a cane after years of using a wheelchair; learn to travel with a service dog; become proficient with cutting edge prosthetics—you are always affected by the social, political, and physical complications of disability. In America we love the past tense when it comes to disability—he was wounded but now he’s rehabilitated; now he’s differently abled; “you wouldn’t know he had a disability”; “he’s just like everybody else”. Like the Puritans who got the ball rolling in North America we believe in mind over matter. Why if you have the right attitude you can overcome anything. But disability stays. You can learn to climb mountains, compete in triathlons, play wheelchair basketball. And even so, disability stays. It stays when the taxi won’t take you because the driver doesn’t want to be bothered with a wheel chair; stays when the airline doesn’t have the proper wheelchair transfer equipment; stays when a veteran with PTSD who has a newly trained service dog to help her navigate in the loud and random world is denied entrance to a fast food restaurant. Would it kill the New York Times to say “Veterans Who Are Disabled?”
We have a big muscle in America—its a clenched jaw of the imagination—we say people were wounded but now they’re free. It is a lie.