A Black Veteran Isn’t Always Happy – Part III

George had gotten into trouble with the military police – MP’s. He was jailed for a period, dishonorably discharged from the Army and released from the military.

When you are dishonorably discharged from the Army you are escorted off the military post and released on your own. George evidently hitchhiked a ride to where he knew his Aunt Estelle lived. When he made it back to Los Angles he was diagnosed as having a nervous breakdown. It was extreme and he was admitted to the Camarillo State Hospital (now closed), a full-blown mental institution such as the one portrayed in the movie “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”.

Harry would visit George during this period and his cousin confided in him. He said that he spent time in jail (stockade) and was beaten daily. The State Hospital was nicer because they didn’t beat him. However, he dreaded having “shock therapy” treatments there. They would send electrical currents through the brain hoping to jar your memory back. This procedure is now illegal. George’s memory was stopped at a period around the pre-high school. He had no memory of playing basketball or going beyond high school.

Having been dishonorably discharged, with apparently no right to a defense attorney, left him with no G.I. Bill of Rights. For the next five decades, George would show little improvement. He was blessed with the unconditional love and care shown by his parents and then his brother after they died. Harry’s Aunt Mary appealed to her Congressman for help in finding answers to George’s condition. The only thing she received was his official dishonorable discharge “DD-212” form.

Of course, there was death in Harry’s family which brought sorrow but also sweet memory. George’s demise was quite worse. He lived a tortious life all the way through the age of 72. This veteran was doomed from the day he entered Boot Camp. His suffering was unyielding.

Mr. Alford is the Co-Founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce®. Ms. DeBow is the Co-Founder, Executive Vice President of the Chamber.

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