to him free of
charge after he heard him talk about the Navajo
and his battle with the VA for war-related benefits two
documents also show that Parker helped him win his claim
for post-traumatic stress disorder in February 2003 and
retroactive pay for PTSD from January 2000.
acronym PTSD made Draper shut his eyes tight, put his
head down, wring his hands and stop talking.
said many of the Navajos who served in World War II
suffered from PTSD.
slowly said, "It's hard. When it starts coming on
me, I can feel it and I go where there are no people, no
noise. I get quiet.
want to be by myself. The thing is I get lonesome. When
I get lonely, I know I'm sick so I have to go to a bar
and take a drink - not to pass out but just to forget
how PTSD feels. That how a lot of boys (veterans) feel
and they drink, drink, drink, to make themselves feel
comfortable," he said.
then all that noise comes. I can see shadows on my side.
I can hear a lot of different kinds of guns. But now I'm
all right. I can hold it," Draper said as he shut
his eyes again and put down his head.
remembered that for 10 years after his discharge on May
16, 1946, "I was bad. I liked to cuss. I'd cuss
said he was lucky he had a job and traditional Navajo
ceremonies, such as the Enemy Way, to help him with his
when the "war disease" gets really bad and the
VA doesn't listen to veterans and denies benefits then
nothing helps, said Draper.
said he hopes for the sake of veterans of the Iraq War
that the VA understands PTSD and that the veterans
earned their benefits.
ready for those (Iraq War) veterans when they come
home," he said.
remembered when the Navajo Code Talkers returned home
and they only had each other to talk to about the war.
talked about how we fit in and the war disease. But a
lot of them died from it. A lot of them kept
drinking," he said.
our way, our tradition, our way of thinking, if you
shoot a man, he comes on you when he dies," he
said. "It will come back again and it will kill you
because that's the law in Navajo way. You don't kill
people. It's not superstition. That's the way it is.
who says kill these men? It's our own government,"
he aid. "So we make sin. Even with a lot of prayers
for us, it's still a sin. We can't get away from
said the Purple Heart helped him but the VA still
doesn't believe that his eye, nose, stomach and heart
problems are war related.
said he was stringing radio wire with two other Marines
on Iwo Jima when the Japanese started firing artillery
heard a mortar shell dropping and yelled,
"Cover!" A few seconds later, he heard and
felt a horrific blast and he couldn't see or hear
said two medics found him and tried unsuccessfully to
stop his nose from bleeding.
shell hit about 15 feet behind him and instantly killed
one of the two boys helping him lay wire, he said. The
other one died in the evening.
said his company had three other Navajos - Jimmy
Preston, James Cohen and Frank Toledo.
was a good policeman but he never stopped drinking, he
said, and died in a chapter house from exposure.
was run over by a train in Gallup, N.M., and Toledo died
in a hospital in Albuquerque from tuberculosis, he said.
remembered that Navajo Code Talkers Paul Kinlicheeny and
"Notah" were laying down sending messages on
"Iwo" when a Japanese blast killed them.
said that for the Navajos, Iwo was the island that took
the most casualties.
to Draper's the Purple Heart commendation, "The
President of the United States has awarded the Purple
Heart established by General George Washington at
Newburgh, New York, August 7, 1782 to Corporal Teddy
Draper, United States Marine Corps for wounds received
in action on 20 February 1945 on Iwo Jima.