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Defying disability: Vietnam Vet’s book translated in Vietnamese for educators

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Rick Ritter is one of the people who have seen the effects of war at close quarters. The 65-years old social worker lives in Ft Wayne, Indiana, and remembers his knee injury sustained at the US Marines Officer Candidates School (OCS) boot camp in Quantico, Virginia, in 1969 as the cause of his permanent disability. But that in only a physical sense; his passion for creating awareness and giving practical, helpful advice to people coping with physical disability has only grown over the years.

In 2005, Ritter published his book “Coping with Physical Loss and Disability”, a workbook with questions and exercises for the physically challenged on account of accidents, injury, and disease. A Spanish language edition “Enfrentando la Discapacidad y el Deterioro Físico” was released the following year. The book was received well by readers and experts in the field but didn’t seem to get popular among social organizations in the US. However, it is attracting international interest.

“Very few American organizations have shown much interest. There has been some use of the book with returning vets from Iraq and Afghanistan’” Ritter tells about the reception of his book.

Lately, it has been translated into Vietnamese by the National Viet Nam University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Ho Chi Minh City – the country’s biggest and most distinguished educational institution. Ritter is traveling there this year to teach a trauma course and lecture on disability and related subjects, and to promote the book.

“I am currently working on a Chinese translation and am interested in the work getting to as many disabled persons as possible in the future,” Ritter says in regard to his plans for the future.

When asked to comment on what war means to him personally, his reply was: “There are no winners in the end and from my vantage point – admittedly different than most – the dead seem to be the lucky ones in many instances.”

Ritter has personally worked with hundreds of war veterans. His first book, “Made In America, Sold in the Nam”, released 30 years ago, was a collaboration with dozens of Ft. Wayne area veterans. For the greater good of the public, he is still hopeful that someday “Coping with Physical Loss and Disability” will be used by the World Health Organization (WHO) to lift up all disabled peoples.

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