Vaughan PVA History
To commemorate the 75 years of service, Vaughan Chapter would like to share a bit of history and pictures with our recent members and bring back memories to our older members.
As we commemorate 75 years of servicing disabled Veterans, let me start by thanking each sponsor, business, individual donors, and volunteers for your contribution to our Mission Statement. Your support to Vaughan Chapter accomplishes our goals to meet the needs of all disabled veterans. As we move forward to a new era and a new generation of disabled veterans, we will continue to care for the needs established by this chapter that had the vision of serving the disabled.
Vaughan Chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America is one of the eight founding chapters of the National PVA, accepted into PVA on February 9, 1947, and incorporated on April 14, 1947, in Illinois. We are proud of that distinction and continue the traditions and high standards our founders began 75 years ago.
The Spinal Cord Injured Veteran in the Mid-1940s
Spinal cord injured veterans of World War II were responsible for forming the local organizations that became the Paralyzed Veterans of America. With the end of the war, the special needs of Paralyzed Veterans became a focal point in learning how to treat this special veteran population. “Because they were so seriously disabled, they felt that the other Veterans’ Organizations could not give them adequate attention.” In short, they would be swallowed up and forgotten.
Vaughan Chapter started as the brainchild of people like Harold Scharper and Terry Rose back on the old Vaughan General Hospital site at Hines in 1946. Harold Scharper, with a group of 20 ramp Quonset Huts which housed the arrival of first-time disabled veterans at the new Vaughan section on the grounds of Hines general hospital. Meetings were held on sun porches on 20 ramp wards; the problems discussed were hospital conditions, compensation increases, housing, hand control cars, plus the need for research in spinal cord injury.
Harold Scharper’s dynamic leadership (first President 1946-1947) Terry Rose, Gil Moss, Al Gore, Bob Dinsmore, Harry Hughes, Fred Peroni, and 65 interested paraplegics forefathers who contributed much to the formation of “The Vaughan Paralyzed Veterans.”
Gil Moss, an attorney, and a resident of Illinois, arrived at the Vaughan General hospital after becoming paralyzed in the summer of 1946 and was appointed secretary for the group and wrote the first bylaws later adopted by all chapters incorporated in Illinois. Gil Moss duly prepared the articles of incorporation, and the Paralyzed Veterans Association of America was incorporated on April 14, 1947, as a non-profit corporation under the laws of the State of Illinois. Later, Gil Moss was elected Vaughan President at the second National Convention on September 26, 1947.
The first Convention of the Paralyzed Veterans Association was held on February 7-9, 1947, at the Vaughan unit of the Hines Veterans Administration Hospital. The convention consisted of 300 veterans paraplegics to discuss with other fellow paraplegics from seven other chapters of the association their mutual opportunities for rehabilitation as a civilian entity against such obstacles such as specially equipped automobiles, specially built homes, and education under the G.I. bill after injury, and to establish a research foundation to discuss the individual paraplegic centers and lastly to form a national group which would be open not only to veterans who were paralyzed but also to nonveteran paraplegics. The meeting was called to order by Acting Chairman Harold A. Scharper; the sixteen delegates to the meeting included: 1.Donald P. Coleman, 2.Joseph Gusmeroli, 3.George W. Hohmann, 4.Frederick M. Smead from Birmingham VA Hospital in Van Nuys, California; 5.Walter Suchanof and 6.Alex P. Mihalchyk from Bronx VA Hospital in Bronx, New York; 7.Harold E. Peterson and 8.Robert Moss from Halloran VA Hospital on Staten Island, New York; 9.William F. Day, Jr, 10.Marcus W. Orr, and 11.Kenneth H. Seaquist from Kennedy VA Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee; 12.Eldred H. Beebe from McGuire VA Hospital in Richmond, Virginia; 13.Joseph T. Gillette from St. Albans Naval Hospital on Long Island, New York; 14.Alfred L. Gore, 15.Gilford S. Moss and 16.Harold A. Scharper from Vaughan Unit, VA Hospital, Hines, Illinois. At this first convention, Vaughan Paralyzed Veteran Gilford S. Moss (Gil) was elected as the first president of Paralyzed Veterans Association of America. With the departing of Gil Moss, Al Gore took over the presidency to finish the year (1947-1948).
Terry Rose, an area supervisor for the Chicago Park District for more than 20 years and a World War I veteran, was the founder of the G-3 Club, which was dedicated to spreading cheer among the spinal Cord injury patients at Hines. The G-3 Club numbered 400 members, and through their efforts, they garnered nearly $10,000 worth of folding wheelchairs, sponge rubber cushions, and afghan lap robes were purchased. It is believed Terry’s enthusiasm with the G-3 Club and his subsequent contact with Scharper, Moss, Gore, Dinsmore, Hughes, and others ignited the spark that led the paraplegics to organize. Terry Rose brought in John J. Hogan and Howard West, attorneys from American Legion Post #38, to advice and counsel paralyzed veterans on all matters, including the writing of a Charter.
Because of the dedicated efforts of many Vaughan Chapter members, Spinal Cord Injury became a separate Service on April 21, 1960. The attitude toward paraplegics up to this time was one of hostility, discourtesy, and rudeness, but with the leadership of President Krenzel and Dr. Frank Gburczyk, our first Spinal Cord Injury Chief, the image began to change to one of respect.
The Charter Fight
A landmark in PVA history occurred on August 11, 1971, when President Nixon signed into law H.R. 2894 (Public Law 92-92), granting a federal Charter to the Paralyzed Veterans of America. This had been a goal of the organization since September 1947, and Bills for a federal Charter had been submitted regularly since 1948. The PVA considered a Charter essential for the operation of their service program, which assisted PVA members with VA claims. Too much history to include on one or two pages, but I invite you to stop by our Chapter office and view the articles, and pictures we have accumulated concerning the formation of the Vaughan Chapter, PVA, back in 1946.
A historical fact regarding what was known as a Family Day at Hines was initiated by Dr. Robert C. Fruin (RCF), Chief of Spinal Cord Injury, which occurred every three months during the year for families and friends of newly injured paralyzed veterans. In each opening statement on every Family Day, Dr. Fruin would tell the families this story. When spinal cord wards were completed with all the equipment the doctors felt was necessary to treat this special population, the question was asked, “where are the wheelchairs?” the answer given was they do not need wheelchairs they are not expected to live past six months. With research funded through PVA every spinal cord injury veteran continued to live a full life.
As one of the founding chapters of PVA, Vaughan Chapter continues to secure benefits for veterans once they are honorably discharged from the service and help them, and other disabled individuals find accessible housing, specialized transportation, quality education, and prosthetic aids for independent living. Other priorities include advocacy work for a barrier-free environment, sports and recreation for the disabled, and support for Spinal Cord Injury and Disease Research. Vaughan Chapter provides these services in Illinois, Northwest Indiana, Southern Wisconsin, Michigan, and the Iowa States.