Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Help Bring Charles Newkirk Back home to NC

Help Bring Charles Newkirk Back home to NC

From: James []
Sent: Tuesday, March 24, 2009 4:39 AM
To: Jim
Subject: Uncle Charlie's War

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Video Report:

Greensboro, NC -- This is the story of a World War II veteran and his family who is desperately trying to get him home. We have come to know him as Uncle Charlie. He was lost in the system for years. Now his family wants to bring him back to North Carolina, but no one can seem to help, not the Veterans Administration or even a US Congressman.

"I told him I would come and get him," says Laurica Oliver, "because it's family."

In fact, Charles Newkirk is Laurica's only living uncle, and the one sibling her mother has left.

Uncle Charlie's story begins during World War II, as he fought alongside others from the "Greatest Generation."

He came home in 1947 suffering from shell shock. Laurica says her grandmother talked about how "the war made my son crazy." Uncle Charlie wandered off into the woods and did other things that scared people. Laurica's grandmother contacted the Army who then came for Uncle Charlie. The family says he was placed in the care of the Army and the Veterans Administration.

Uncle Charlie was moved to a VA supervised group home in Tennessee. He stayed there for many years and in the 1960's, Uncle Charlie was moved to another supervised home in Ohio. In 1974, the VA determined that Mr. Newkirk was incompetent and an attorney, Richard Dimond, became legal guardian. Later, Uncle Charlie was diagnosed with schizophrenia by health care professionals. In 2002, Uncle Charlie was admitted to the VA in Chillicothe and has remained there since.

"This man has no one in Ohio, nobody. I am not giving up on that man's life. He deserves to be a man" says Laurica.

Around 2003, Laurica says she found her uncle and took her mother to visit. So in 2006, Laurica went to court to try to gain guardianship over Uncle Charlie from Richard Dimond, "Now why does this man want to keep this man that he has no feelings or no person liaison with him and does not have to visit and does not visit."

Richard Dimond was very forthcoming about Uncle Charlie's situation. He said the court was acting in the best interest of the veteran, not the family. Dimond also says the court believed it's too traumatic to move Uncle Charlie with his medical conditions. Dimond admits he does not go to visit Uncle Charlie very often, but he said he was there last week to take him some clothing and new pajamas.

Laurica disagrees and believes the fight is really over money. According to the Probate Court in Ohio, Uncle Charlie had $292,083.72 in 1993. With the last accounting in 2008, Uncle Charlie now has $788,362.63.

Laurica offered to allow Dimond to keep guardianship of Uncle Charlie and control of the money, if he would just allow Uncle Charlie to come home to North Carolina. "Have a human being life, not an existing life, not a surviving life but a living loving life and Diamond cannot give it to him."

She turned to the VA who couldn't help because of the court's ruling. Then, she asked Congressman Howard Coble for help.

"Ms. Oliver has no ulterior motive except for the good will that would be generated within the family to have Uncle Charlie back home," says Congressman Coble who personally wrote the VA. "Most of the time we can work through the snafus. But, we've run into a brick wall on this one."

Laurica and her family have made the long driver to visit Uncle Charlie several times always hoping for more.

"We put him in a wheel chair, we rolled him down to the solarium. My son plays the piano and so does my daughter. We put him in there, he sat there, he enjoyed it. My son was singing, he was all out of step and just had a ball. When we got ready to take him back to the room, the nurse, one of the nurses came in and she said Charlie that's the first time I've seen you smile," recounts Laurica.

At this point, it seems she has only one way to get Uncle Charlie back home.

"We have no idea about our uncle except to sit, wait and let him die for them to ship him to North Carolina in a box for us to bury him."

For now, Uncle Charlie will stay in Ohio. The guardian says he was ordered by the court to pay for the family to come visit out of Uncle Charlie's account. When asked about Uncle Charlie's will and the remainder of the money, Dimond said he couldn't comment for ethical reasons.

WFMY News 2

'Hearts and Minds', "The ultimate victory will depend on the hearts and minds of the people who actually live there." -- President Lyndon Johnson

The man belongs near home........

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