The American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial


By: Jonathan CohnThe American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial Logo 'Courage Endures'

The American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial was just opened in Washington D.C. The Memorial, which sits at the corner of Washington Ave. and 2nd Street, is the first of its kind in the nation’s capital to honor both living and deceased disabled war heroes. The project was initially proposed in 1998 by the Disabled Veterans’ Life Memorial Foundation, Inc. It was immediately endorsed by many in Congress, who sought to get the project to President Bill Clinton’s desk, which they finally accomplished in 2000.

The Memorial consists of a star-shaped fountain and pool with a flame protruding towards the sky in the middle of the star. Surrounding the reflecting pool is a grove of trees “signifyinBronze art showing a soldier missing a legg the persistence of hope.” The Memorial uses granite pieces, glass panels showing important quotes and images, and bronze sculptures depicting disabled warriors in action. All of these pieces are meant to “convey a combination of strength and vulnerability, loss and renewal” and remind us of those who have given great sacrifices for our freedom.

The Miami Foundation is having their 3rd annual Give Miami Day on November 20, 2014.  The event starts at midnight on November 20th and lasts for 24 hours. Disability Independence group will be a part of this amazing event.  Support DIG and join the movement.

WWII Veteran Receives His Purple Heart After 70 Years


By: Chris Arroyo A purple Heart award

Robert C Bohm was born October 8, 1920 in Lorraine, Ohio. He lived in Ohio, Illinois, and Iowa growing up and graduated from Muscatine High School in Iowa. On October 29, 1940, he signed up for the US Army.

His first tour was in North Africa and his job was a lineman/communication specialist. One day his troop was given orders that they would be joining forces in Italy. Someone had to be left behind to close down the switchboard, and Bob was selected. Several days later when he caught up to his troop, he found that the previous night their campsite had been bombed and all had perished.

On February 1, 1944, Bob was struck in the head with mortar shell in the Battle of Monte Cassino. He woke up fourteen days later in a military hospital in Naples with no recollection of where he had been the last fourteen days or how he had gotten off of the mountain into Naples. He was told that he would be sent home and would receive his Purple Heart. The Army had even sent a telegram to his parents telling them he was coming home. Instead he was re-assigned to the 591st Boat Engineers, a non-combat troop who protected the Naples harbor.

When he finally returned home after serving four years, nine months, and twenty-eight days, he was honorably discharged at Ft. Sheridan in Illinois. Major Harold Dunn wrote on his separation paper that he was due his Purple Heart.

bob in uniform leaning on a stone wall with trees in the background While waiting for his Purple Heart to come, Bob married his fiancé and love of his life, Jeanne Metzger. He graduated from college and began a life-long career as a coach, teacher, and school administrator. Finally after waiting for years, he searched to find out why he had never received his Purple Heart, only to be informed that his records, along with 18 million other veterans’ records had been burned in a fire in St. Louis. Every time that he would try through the VA, VFW, and politicians he was told that without these records it would be impossible for him to get his Purple Heart.

In April of 2013, his daughter heard of another WW II veteran who had gotten his Purple Heart with the help of The Order of the Purple Heart. She contacted them and they instructed her as to how to get his DD 214 form corrected.

December 19, 2013 Bob received a letter stating that once again he was denied because there was no proof that his wound was enemy related or that he had been treated in a military hospital for this wound. His daughter re-submitted papers documenting his wound was from battle and where he was treated for the wound. Their congresswoman, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen joined in the fight and wrote letters on Bob’s behalf.portrait of Bob in milatary uniform

June 7, 2014 Bob received another rejection once again stating that without his records that had been burned, it was not possible to get his Purple Heart. His daughter could not even tell him this news and the next day started searching the internet. She stumbled across an interview for NPR with Four-Star General Peter Chiarelli who has made it his purpose to help soldiers who suffered from brain injuries. His daughter contacted the retired general and sent his medical records proving that Bob indeed had suffered traumatic brain injury, was treated for this wound in a military hospital, and his separation paper showing that the request had been made for his Purple Heart.

Within ten days of General Chiarelli receiving these papers, Bob was notified that he was receiving his Purple Heart. He had waited over 70 years to hear those words. He then received a letter from General Chiarelli that he and his wife, Beth would be honored to be at the ceremony. Then he heard from General David MacEwen who had assisted in expediting the award would also be attending with his wife, Patty. Also attending were Mr. Richard Hunt and his wife, Michelle from the Order of the Purple Heart.

On the evening of August 23, 2014 in a heartwarming ceremony Robert C. Bohm was pinned his Purple Heart by General Peter Chiarelli, General David MacEwen, and Congresswoman, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

A veteran is permitted his support animal in his home

The Trial Team

Ajit Bhogaita, Kane the Dog, Aaron Bates, Esq. and Matt Dietz, Esq.

Litigation: Bhogaita v. Altamonte Springs Condominium Assoc.   

Ajit Bhogaita is a United States Air Force veteran who, like hundreds of thousands of other veterans, suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”) As a result of his PTSD, Mr. Bhogaita attempted to take his own life, and then medicated with anti-depressants for his chronic depression and anxiety. Because of this disability, he has difficulty sleeping and is unable to form close personal or professional relationships. In 2008, Mr. Bhogaita received a dog, a pit-bull terrier named Kane.  For the first time in years, Mr. Bhogaita could sleep and the dog alleviated his anxiety and depression to the extent that he stopped seeking continual and emergency treatment for his disability.

While his condominium association realized that Kane weighed more than the 25 pound limit, it did not seek to enforce its limitations until 2010. When he received a letter stating that he was violating the pet rules, Bhogaita informed the association that he had a disability and needed an accommodation. When there were threats of further acts, it caused Mr. Bhogaita to panic, and he went back to his doctors at the Veteran’s Administration Medical Center and received letters from his psychiatrist who was familiar with the use of service animals and emotional support animals by veterans. Mr. Bhogaita wrote three letters to the condominium association verifying Mr. Bhogaita’s mental illness and need for Kane, the support dog. This did not satisfy the association, and the association and its lawyer demanded detailed information regarding Mr. Bhogaita’s mental health history, cause, treatment, and future treatment. Mr. Bhogaita said no.

Under the Fair Housing Act, a housing provider is not entitled to unnecessary and detailed medical or psychological information to determine whether a resident has a disability or whether the resident needs an emotional support animal. Matthew W. Dietz, Litigation Director of Disability Independence Group, and Aaron C. Bates, Esq. successfully represented Mr. Bhogaita in trial, and now the case in before the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

Currently, there are over 180,000 veterans with PTSD who served our country in Afghanistan and Iraq. For all these veterans do for our country, it is obscene that housing providers do not permit an accommodation in rules that will provide
considerable support to ameliorate a veteran’s suffering. It has long been established that the emotional connection between a person and an animal promotes release of oxytocin from the pituitary gland, thus serves to alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. It is a simple, beneficial and effective alternative to medication. One of the major goals of the Disability Rights movement is that each person with a disability has the right to self-determination – free from the patriarchal attitudes of the “able-bodied”. We are proud to be able to assist Mr. Bhogaita in allowing him the freedom and the ability to integrate into and live in our society.