Helping veterans get their hard-earned benefits from Uncle Sam is part Johnnie Williams’ mission to bring awareness to the plight of combat veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and others disabled with physical ailments.
PTSD never goes away, Williams said of his own case. It takes patience and time to work through the flashbacks that come back to him in his dreams, back to battles fought in the jungles of Vietnam during the Tet Offensive in 1968, when he served with the Army’s 199th Light Infantry Brigade.
Williams helps veterans from Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan obtain federal benefits for their wartime service, particularly disabled ones not easily mobile, confined to wheelchairs or on crutches.
“Everything is in place for you to get your benefits,” he said. “But now you have a choice: you could either die waiting for your benefits or go after them yourself. But if you have disabilities, how are you going to go after it yourself?”
That’s where Williams comes in, driving veterans to VA offices where they can register and get what they’ve earned.
He makes contact with vets at James J. Peters Veterans Administration hospital in Kingsbridge Heights, as well as through his website johnniehwi
The Allerton resident also has an office at 199 Lincoln Avenue in Mott Haven for veterans to come in for help navigating the veteran benefits system.
Williams has a passion and talent for computers. He helped to organize a massive computer fair at Hostos Community College in 1997 when he was a student there. Williams eventually graduated with honors, earning an Associate Degree, and is now working his way back to Lehman College to complete a degree in computer science.
It gives him a great deal of fulfillment when he is able to help a homeless veteran get housing, or a returning Iraqi veteran a job.
“Everything here is about hiring a veteran,” said Williams. “It is not about me, it is about what we do. There is no job that a veteran cannot do. A vet can do any job because they are trained.”
Williams is also the author of four inspirational books entitled “Help is on the Way”, “Help is on the Way 2,” “The Mustard Seeds,” and “When Change Comes, Good or Bad, Will You be Ready?” The books include anecdotes from his life, along with his own reflections, and are available on sale on his website.
He also brings veterans to schools to speak to children about the sacrifices the women and men in uniform make to keep the country strong and free.Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at procchio@c