Bernie Block: More Decisions Made During My Lifetime

In 1942 when I graduated high school the United States was at war with Germany and Japan. I was waiting to be called up in the draft process that was being used to fill the armed forces.

When I was finally called up, I went to the armory I was to report to, but was sent home because the pre-exam showed I had walking pneumonia. I was given instructions to go home, rest and eat a healthy diet to combat the large dark area over my left lung that showed on the X-rays that were taken. Here was a decision that was made by my body!!!

It took about nine months to accomplish that task since there were no magic medicines available at that time that could speed up the process. After finally getting well I made a decision to volunteer for the U.S. Navy. I was accepted by this branch of the service, who sent me to boot camp for my basic training in Newport, RI.

After boot camp, the Navy sent me to the University of Chicago where I was trained to become a radioman using the Morse Code. This was the basis for communication at that time since there was no portable radio communication equipment at the time.

I was the top man in my class towards the end of this training period, when the right side of my face became paralyzed due to inclement Chicago winter temperature and windy conditions.  I ended up in the hospital for two weeks to recover at a slow pace.

My radioman’s classmates were sent to the Philippines for their next assignment. I, after my recovery, had the opportunity of being placed in the V-12 program to be trained as a Communications Officer. I was sent to Bowling Green State University (near Toledo, OH). Here was another case of making a decision by the Navy with some help by my body.

After spending a year at Bowling Green, I was sent to the University of Notre Dame to complete my V-12 training. However, after one term there, the war ended. I had enough points to be discharged in early 1946. All these decisions courtesy of the U.S. Navy.

After arriving home, the U.S. Congress had passed the G.I. Bill of Rights. Among the benefits available was higher education. I then decided to switch from engineering while with the Navy to my first love — journalism. (This first love was when I started a “gossip sheet” in an apartment dwelling of 150 residents when I was 15 years old).

This monthly sheet generated $1.28 profit during a depression period that had started with the crash of the Stock Market in 1928. (That money for me was considered to be “great.”)

I decided to go to New York University (Washington Square area in the City). All my professors were members of a unique newspaper called PM, which did not accept any advertising to help pay for the publication. It received its money from a philanthropist, Marshall Field, who owned that well-known department store in Chicago.

It was a great decision on my part. My 1948 graduation with a BA degree in journalism helped me enjoy 28 years in the profession as a reporter, columnist, publisher, promoter and advertising executive. I first worked for others and then as an entrepreneur publishing newsletters and other journalistic endeavors for the past 40 years. This part of my life has been the most beneficial, lucrative decision I probably made.

I would like to hear from readers of this Brookdale blog who have made some wonderful decisions in their life time. Send me your thoughts to my e-mail —


As I told you in my original column of last week, I will also be reporting on what I consider important items that appeared on my internet website. This one is very important to the veterans of World War II and those who participated in the Korean War.

This secret is called “Aid & Assistance” for senior care, and is a pension awarded to those who were on active duty during World War II or the Korean War. You must also have been “Honorably Discharged” and have an income below a certain amount. In addition, the applicant must currently reside in and continue to live in an assisted living facility. If qualified by the VA, you will receive $2,288/month as a married couple, or $1,788 as a single (widow or widower).

Check with your local VA office for details. It will probably take about 6 months before you see this benefit, but it is retroactive to the date you file for it!!!!

Bernie is a real person who resides in one of our Brookdale communities. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Brookdale Senior Living.


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