89-year-old vet waits 68 years for benefits by Chuck Norris

Chuck Norris rails at VA for neglecting wounded World War II hero.

I almost lost my Texas cool last week when reading a Fox News report about an 89-year-old wounded World War II veteran who had to wait 68 years since his time on the battlefield to receive benefits. And you thought long waits and mishandling of veteran care was only a recent problem?

Milton Rackham of Belding, Michigan, who is also a Purple Heart recipient, lived decades without benefits because the Department of Veterans Affairs said to him that his records were lost in a fire – at least that’s how the VA explained its inability to give him the post-war care he deserved and fought for.

Rackham grew up in Rigby, Idaho, where he learned and lived by herding cattle. At just 17, he enlisted in the Navy. He was fighting in the South Pacific when Japanese kamikazes dive-bombed on American troops and he was severely injured – wounds that almost led to an arm and leg amputation and still bear shrapnel in them. He was two years recovering in Navy hospitals in Hawaii and Manila before returning to civilian life.

Two immediate war repercussions surged in his life: his inability to work as he did before the war due to his damaged limbs and the onslaught of post-traumatic stress disorder.

He explained it this way to his local newspaper, The Daily News: “For years after I got home I couldn’t even think about war. When I got home I was a flat-out basket case. I was never going to get married. I was just going to go to work and hibernate. I was going to do whatever I had to do to just forget. All I wanted was to forget.”


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