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Hines VA Blind Rehabilitation Center PDF Print E-mail
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Tuesday, 29 November 2011 09:23

3/1/1969 David Huffman flew to near Chicago, IL to the Hines VA blind rehabilitation center.  Most of the Veterans there were those who were recently blinded in Vietnam and usually had other wounds.  Huffman had a good friend, a Marine, who was blinded and lost both hands. There were some older Veterans from the Second World War or the Korean War era that had vision problems due to diabetes or macular degeneration as well. Huffman was given training in basic blind skills: using a cane, techniques for walking with another person, folding money in order to identify the bill; braille and typing skills, public transportation and traveling - getting on and off of trains and buses.  Huffman was given a GED test.  He did well in math; he did poorly in English but managed to pass. 

The Red Cross sponsored dances every week.  The Red Cross workers were not supposed to date the Veterans, but somehow there seemed to be a lot of marriages.  Huffman dated a Red Cross worker, Gloria Triani; he almost married her himself.  Chicago didn’t seem real appetizing for him; he wanted her to come to Wilmington, DE.  He sent her boxing gloves to fight it out with her family.  Her family won the match.  Huffman wasn’t there anyways.  He was dating in Wilmington, DE on the other end, as he flew back and forth from Chicago.  He learned a little bit about the Navy from a Navy girl rather than a Marine corpsman.  Huffman lifted weights, punched a speed bag, did push-ups, and was able to do 53 chin-ups.  He was in the best shape of his life, his hormones were telling him.  His confidence and his independence were up.  His priorities were focused on his looks, partying and dating. 
The local golf club would participate with Hines in blind golfing.  Huffman almost got in trouble when he swung at a golf ball not realizing the lady assisting him with golfing was placing the ball back after he missed.  He almost hit her.  Huffman almost got thrown out of Hines when a former boxer threatened him because he did not like Huffman playing “Merrily We Roll Along” while the former boxer was watching TV; the same boxer who taught Huffman how to hit a speed bag.  Huffman settled it with a piano bench and explained, “He threatened to hit me and he was coming at me”. 

The training went well. Huffman learned braille; he learned how to type; he learned how to navigate throughout a city with his cane.  He felt he could have a life when he finished the program in October 1969. 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 November 2011 10:30