Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Peter J. Skoufis
I had plenty of time to formulate my plans for the future, including the resumption of my law school education which had been interrupted. I got in touch with the Boys School. Dan Ahern had left to go to work for the Veterans Administration; he was counseling veterans about the GI bill. I went to see him. I told him what my plans were which were to return to the Boys School. He discouraged me; he said that things had changed there and that I really shouldn't return. He suggested I come to work for the VA. I told him I couldn't do that because I was still in the military leave. He said that that was no problem. The School would put me on its roll for one day so that I could re-enter the civil service. Then the VA would pick me up. He turned me over to a personnel officer. I went before a medical board and I got my discharge. That was about the middle of June. The next day, I went to work for the VA as a registration officer. I determined eligibility for training under the GI “Bill of Rights”. My section was called “Registration and Rehabilitation”. After determining their eligibility, we counseled veterans on what courses they could take. At the time, the eligibility was determined by the number of months one had served in the military. The minimum was three months; the maximum was four years of college training. The program was doing very well.
I made an attempt to return to law school in September, but that was very difficult because everyone was returning to school and there was a real jam up. I probably would have had to apply in January or February, but I was still in the hospital at that time. In any case, I became very interested in my VA work and I was progressing pretty well and became chief of a section—a GS 11 position—in the Washington regional office on the corner of H Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. One of my poignant memories of those days concerns the first weekend I was working in that regional office. We were then on C Street and Indian Avenue, where the District government now has its offices. We received word that we would be moving to H Street over Memorial Day weekend and that if we wanted to help, we would be paid over-time. I volunteered as many others did. We worked around the clock that weekend, putting stuff in boxes, putting boxes into trucks, unloading the trucks and then opening the boxes and putting their contents away in the new location. I think I received $200-300 for that weekend work and that was more money than I had seen in a long time. It was enough for a down-payment on an old Ford that I bought. I was living then in McLean Gardens apartments right off Wisconsin Avenue that had been built during the war. There was dormitory arrangement for single people—one building for males and one for females. I used to commute from there to the VA office, which was rather chaotic both because it was a new bureaucratic venture and because it had thousands and thousands of applicants. There were all sorts of problems—insufficient documentation, documentation that could not be certified, particularly discharge papers which were important because the law limited the benefits to only those who were discharged under “honorable conditions”. Washington was a very crowded city because a lot of people were coming to the government where things were beginning to happen.