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Mental Disability Psychologists

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Philadelphia, PA 19139-4542

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An Interview

with the former

Social security Consultative Psychologist

by Valeria V. Berry

Q. Ms. Berry. First off, Dr. Vaughn, everyone who reads this will want to know how you became a psychologist. Were you born with a silver spoon in your mouth?

A. Dr. Vaughn. Heck no, I grew up in a single parent household with my mother and brother near the nation’s capitol. Reserve Officer Training Corp (ROTC) at college led to my becoming a Captain in the USAF and a Mental Testing Officer for Selective Service Registrants who were once drafted into the military, plus volunteers for the U.S. Army and the U.S. Air Force. That got me the G.I. Bill to pay for graduate school.

Q. Berry. Actually, you were a Psychological Warfare Officer during the time you were in the Air Force, right?

A. Vaughn. Yes, I served overseas in Korea and earlier had been in the Strategic Air Command, as well as at the Voice of America (VOA). By the way, that was when Senator Joseph McCarthy went hunting for communists in the government and Hollywood. And let me not forget a couple other state-side assignments: the Human Resources Research Institute and the Air University, while still in uniform.

A. Well, for one thing, it came to me after knowing so many who while very deserving still went about it the wrong way. Sadly, lots of people don’t even know they can get Social Security for anything other than a physical problem–not a mental one. Some 60% get turned down. Others need periodic re-evaluation.

A. Without a doubt–many just don’t know how to go about it the right way. In fact, some never get beyond the first step, the application, and get turned down yet are worthy of benefits. Comes to mind is the newspaper report of a 37-year-old mentally retarded man killed by his mother, 65, who feared what would happen to her son upon her death. Society failed them; they failed each other. No advocate knew of their plight. Both could have qualified for Social Security.

Q. I think Unmasking The Mystery Of Mental Illness For Social Security is the ultimate in how-to books regarding mentally disabled people and federal benefits. Why did you do it?

A. Quite frankly, nobody sets out that way. Like most everything else, they were never told the right way, and, besides, Social Security doesn’t give the store away. Plus...the feds demand medical evidence.

What About Social Security

Q. Why is that?

Q. Okay. But could such people have benefited from your book?

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