WWI Vocational Rehabilitation of Thomas J. Collins

In the census of 1910,   Thomas Jefferson Collins was enumerated as a teenager living with his family in Ray City, GA.  He was born July 14, 1894, a son of William A. Collins.  By the time of the WWI replacement draft registration of 1917, he was a young man of 22, with medium height and build, light blue eyes and light brown hair. At the time of the registration, he was living in Barretts, GA, about seven miles south of Ray City where he was employed as a farmer.

Thomas was drafted and inducted for service on June 24, 1918 at Valdosta, GA.  He served in the Army and came back to Ray City a disabled veteran.

WWI Service Record of Thomas J. Collins

WWI Service Record of Thomas J. Collins

The Army sent Collins to Auxiliary Remount Depot 316 at Camp Gordon, GA.

According to the U.S. Army Quartermaster Foundation, “The principle function of the Remount Service during peacetime was to procure, process, train, and issue horses, mules, and dogs (1942-1948) for military use and to train personnel in animal management.

Army Mule. Image Source: http://www.qmfound.com/remount.htm

Army Mule. Image Source: http://www.qmfound.com/remount.htm

It was also responsible for purchase of forage for these animals. Another function of the Remount Service was that of  the Army horse breeding program designed to raise the quality of horses. The Remount Service’s principle functions during war were to supply replacement riding horses and the draft animals required to haul ammunition, water, food, and heavy artillery and to evacuate the wounded. World War I was the last major conflict which the United States Army used horses and mules in significant numbers.  The Remount Service was enlarged to meet the increased demands of the Artillery, the Cavalry and other units.  Around 571,000 horses and mules processed through the Remount system of which more than 68,000 were killed in that war.  At the close of the war the Quartermaster Corps maintained 39 remount depots with a capacity 229,200 animals.”

Auxiliary Remount Depot No. 316 at Camp Gordon, GA had a capacity for 5000 horses and mules, and quartered an average of 4015 animals.  It was staffed with 6 commissioned officers and  75 enlisted men. Collins served there as a private in the Quartermasters Corps. Listing of other depot staff  may be viewed at AUXILIARY REMOUNT DEPOT 316 ROSTER, CAMP GORDON, GEORGIA (ca. 1919).

While in Army service Thomas J. Collins was seriously injured resulting in a 50 percent disability.  He was honorably discharged on March 20, 1919 with a Service Connected Disability.  Fortunately, in 1919 Congress passed a law providing vocational rehabilitation for disabled veterans.


Red Cross Poster for WWI Wounded Warriors

Red Cross Poster for WWI Wounded Warriors

Legislation for Vocational Rehabilitation

During the summer [1919] the bill introduced into Congress by Senator Hoke Smith and Representative Wm. J. Sears, known as the Smith-Sears Bill, was passed by Congress. This Act provides for vocational rehabilitation and return to civil employment of disabled persons discharged from the military and naval forces of the United States. The bill vests the Federal Board for Vocational Education with power to pass on who may be vocationally rehabilitated, to prescribe and provide courses of vocational rehabilitation, and to provide for the placement of rehabilitated persons in suitable and gainful occupations.

The bill appropriates $1,800,000 for buildings and equipment ; preparation and salaries of instructors and supervisors; traveling expenses of disabled persons in connection with training; tuition, placement and supervision after placement of vocationally rehabilitated persons; and investigations and administrative expenses.

An investigation that has been made by the Federal Vocational Board shows that for every million men in the army 100,000 wounded men will recover. Of this 100,000 men 80,000 will need no re-education; 10,000 should have partial re-education, and 10,000 total re-education. Georgia has about   of the population of the United States, and calculating on the basis of three million men in the army we would probably have about 1,000 white soldiers in Georgia to be given re-education, owing to severe wounds. The Federal Board has divided the forms of education for these men into six groups—Agriculture, Commerce, and Professional, Navy, trades, and industries.

This action on the part of the government is indeed a noble one. An effort will be made, as in other countries, to put the crippled soldier on an independent basis of wage earning and not leave him to eke out his existence as a cripple or in a soldiers’ home, but let him feel that tho a crippled he can be a useful and self supporting citizen.

In 1919-1920 Thomas J. Collins of Ray City, GA was a “Rehabilitation Student” at the University of Georgia.

-Announcement of the University of Georgia For the Session of 1920-1021 with a register of officers and students for the session of 1919-1920, Volume 20, Issue 9 By University of Georgia. PG 287

 These courses are open only to disabled soldiers, sailors and marines who have been recommended by the Federal Board for Vocational Training.

Special courses are arranged according to the previous education and training of those recommended for vocational training, taking these courses are required to take work in English and mathematics and optional courses in general agriculture or special courses in agronomy, horticulture, animal husbandry, agricultural engineering or poultry husbandry.

The object of these courses is to give vocational training in some phase of agricultural work

The High school quarterly, Volume 7 By University of Georgia, Georgia High School Association, Georgia College Association, National High School Inspectors’ Association, Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. Commission on Accredited Schools of the Southern States. PG 6

By 1930, Thomas J. Collins was living in Valdosta, GA and later moved to Hillsborough, Florida.


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