A Woman Inventor the Veteran Administration Ignored

Bessie Blount was an African American woman who led a life that was dedicated to helping those in need. She was a physical therapist and an inventor of apparatus that was designed to help the amputees that suffered permanent injuries in World War II. Bessie Blount has been called a "savior of the handicapped" for her invention that allowed World War II disabled veterans to feed themselves, and for her unique method of teaching them to write again.
Honoring Bessie Blount. She died on December 30, 2009 in Newfield, New Jersey. Via blackhistory.net

Here is a woman everyone should know about especially American Veterans. Her name is Bessie Blout and she was a highly accomplished woman. She was born in Virginia and moved to New Jersey to pursue becoming  a physical therapist. Later she finished her training in Chicago.

After graduating she taught Physical Therapy at a hospital in New York, but also became an inventor of devices that were instrumental in helping soldiers who were injured (World War Two) to  become independent and feed themselves.

The device was used for a soldier in a wheelchair or a bed. Each time the soldier would bite down on the tube, it would transport food one bite at a time. She later invented a smaller portable device (Portable receptacle  support) that could be worn around the neck (see image below).

Drawing and Description of Bessie Blount's Invention: Drawing of Invention - Bessie Blount Honoring Black American Inventor
Bessie Blount’s patent was filed in 1951 under her married name of Bessie Griffin. Photo Credit: USPTO

The United States Veteran’s Administration did not support either of her devices. She then sold them to France and gave them the patent rights in 1952. They used them for their war veterans. She wanted to show, “that a Black woman can invent something for the benefit of humankind.”

She created another helpful device that the VA also rejected and never used in their hospitals. It was the invention of a disposable cardboard emesis basin.  Her item was also never patented in America so she sold it to Belgium where the basins are still being used throughout their country.  American hospitals continue to use the old standard basins of 1913.

In 1969, Bessie began a career in forensic science with law enforcement, and became a chief document examiner.

In 1977, she became the first Black woman to train and work at Scotland Yard, after J. Edgar Hoover, FBI director, turned down her application.

Bessie was named as one of many notable Virginia women in history in 2005

Learn about some other Inspirational women

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A WWII-Era Protest Letter sent By Japanese-American Internees Resisting the Draft

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A WWII-Era Protest Letter sent By Japanese-American Internees Resisting the Draft

What is not taught in the history books. The Japanese American experience is an American story / history too. We can learn from all perspectives or experiences or simply stay with our one limited view usually from our limited awareness. Telling the truth of history is not Un-American or unpatriotic. It is very much American, at least it is supposed to be. Learn more about the story here.

Related Post: The Nisei Soldiers- Japanese American Veteran experience and recognition

There’s a great book on the WWII Japanese American draft resisters by Eric Muller titled “Free to Die for Their Country” that covers the resistance to the draft from a few different camps. There’s also a museum and National Historic Site in northwest Wyoming that has preserved parts of the Heart Mountain camp and commemorates the experiences of those imprisoned there. (More info at heartmountain.org)

 

The Nisei Soldiers- Japanese American Veteran experience and recognition

Learn about ALL American veteran experiences……………..

japanese vets
Credit: National World War Two Museum, Public Domain

 

Nisei Soldiers story and special recognition

A powerful letter from a son to his Japanese American Veteran father

New Broadway Musical about the Japanese American Musical during World War Two

Learn about new musical and documentary regarding the Japanese American experience- http://www.allegiancemusical.com/

World War Two Veterans Fight for Recognition

filipino vets

Frustrated, Filipino Veterans throw their medal downs

Break down of the Veterans involvement and fight for recognition

Learn ALL About it  (video testimony by Filipino American World War Two Veterans) here

Also great information from PBS here

The Veterans in this video (and link with further details) have been lobbying for a very long time. They have fought a good fight and many are now dying. Those who are left continue to TRY and do something. I have the utmost respect for them in doing so and the other American Veterans who get behind them.

These Veterans fought and sacrificed too. Maybe promises shouldn’t be made if  they can’t be kept.  This is the whole  mentality  that continues of dehumanizing, devaluing, and that lives are expendable.