Houseless Veteran, Michael Boatwright wakes from coma speaking only Swedish -

Michael Boatwright

Houseless Veteran, Michael Boatwright wakes from coma speaking only Swedish

Please extend prayers and blessing unto this man during his troubled times.

What ever brought Michael Boatwright to what he encounters now, those who know this man - if actually with empathy and compassion - should be standing right beside him, as well as, ALL of those American citizens who benefit from U.S.A. Veterans. Lest us not forget that it is due to those who have served the once fine, respectable and caring country of the United States of America, that we enjoy an existence that many seek.

To Michelle Brewer, Michael Boatwright's sister, if you are involved with children, yet can turn your back on your own, then people should actually question if you are fit to be part of the teaching cycle of children. Simply put, what could you actually be teaching children about empathy, compassion and actually caring about each other?

"The Houseless"

 Michael Boatwright didn't recognize his own face on an ID card and spoke only Swedish and answered only to Johan Ek when he awoke in a Palm Springs, Calif., hospital after being found unconscious Feb. 28.

Brett Kelman, USA TODAY 11:45 a.m. EDT August 7, 2013

Michael Boatwright woke from coma five months ago speaking only Swedish.

Michael Boatwright, who spent five months at Desert Regional Medical Center after awaking from a coma with no memory and speaking only Swedish, takes a taxi to Roy's Desert Resource Center in Palm Springs, Calif.(Photo: Brett Kelman, The Palm Springs, Calif., Desert Sun)
PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -- Swedish-speaking amnesia patient Michael Boatwright moved into a homeless shelter Tuesday after five months in a hospital.

Boatwright, 61, walked out of Desert Regional Medical Center with a backpack and a duffel bag just before 4 p.m. A taxi, coordinated by the hospital, took the American to Roy's Desert Resource Center in north Palm Springs, where shelter staff welcomed him.

A Desert Regional spokesman said the hospital settled on releasing Boatwright to the homeless shelter after neither his family nor the Department of Veterans Affairs was willing to take him in. Case management workers have been searching for a safe way to release Boatwright for months.

"Ultimately, the hospital is trying to do the right thing in this case. It is an unusual case, and we were trying to do the right thing," said Richard Ramhoff, hospital spokesman. "I think we've got the best outcome we can possibly do for Michael. I can't say enough about Roy's."

Boatwright appeared mostly emotionless as he left the hospital. When questioned in English by a Desert Sun reporter, Boatwright said he didn't understand.

Boatwright spoke once more after the taxi dropped him off, as he sat waiting in the lobby of the homeless shelter. "Thank you," he said, glancing up at a reporter who waved goodbye. This is one of the few phases Boatwright says in English.

Boatwright was found unconscious in a Palm Springs motel room on Feb. 28; Florida identification was found in his wallet. He had flown from China to Palm Springs a few days prior, destitute and depressed by the remarriage of his ex-wife, banking on long-shot hopes of landing a job as a tennis coach. A friend in China, Gifford Searls, bought Boatwright a plane ticket to Palm Springs in hopes his troubled friend would find a fresh start in the desert.

Michael Boatwright has amnesia and is being cared for in Palm Springs, Calif.(Photo: Jay Calderon, The (Palm Springs, Calif.) Desert Sun)

When Boatwright awoke in the hospital, he insisted he had lost his memory and forgotten how to speak English. He was soon diagnosed with dissociative amnesia, which is a form of spontaneous memory loss without injury or illness. He had remained at the hospital ever since, penniless and uninsured, absorbing hospital resources.

Ramhoff said Boatwright's five-month stay cost the hospital a "considerable amount," but declined to release a figure.

"We don't discuss bills of individuals and I don't think we want to break that policy here as well," Ramhoff said.

The Desert Sun broke the story of Boatwright's peculiar case on July 7. After the story was picked up by sister paper USA TODAY, the Hollywood-style amnesia story quickly captivated readers around the globe. A follow-up story by The Desert Sun located Boatwright's sister, Michelle Brewer, a Louisiana woman who had lost contact with her brother a decade beforehand.

After the discovery of Boatwright's sister, hospital staff reached out to the patient's family, hoping they could provide a home for their long-lost relative. Unfortunately, taking Boatwright in "was not a possibility," Ramhoff said. He declined to provide more details.

Brewer could not be reached at her Louisiana home.

The hospital also reached out to the Department of Veterans Affairs, but the agency ruled that inpatient care was not justified in Boatwright's case, Ramhoff said. Boatwright is a Navy veteran who served during the Vietnam War. In 2008, Boatwright received services for homeless veterans in San Francisco.

The hospital was not comfortable sending Boatwright to the homeless shelter until it had eliminated the possibility of releasing him to family or a veteran's facility, Ramhoff said. The hospital also attempted to get disability benefits for Boatwright from the Social Security Administration, but has not received a response.

Roy's permits homeless clients like Boatwright to stay at the shelter for three to four months, said Aurora Wilson, director of community resources for Coachella Valley Association of Governments, which administers the facility.

During Boatwright's stay, case management employees will try to find him more permanent housing and employment, Wilson said. If it is determined that Boatwright needs mental health services, he can tap into a county clinic that is next- door to the shelter, Wilson said.

This entire process will be complicated by Boatwright's amnesia, and the fact that the shelter doesn't employ anyone who speaks Swedish, Wilson said. Roy's has never housed anyone like Boatwright before, Wilson said, but she was optimistic the shelter could help the troubled man.

"We are, I think, the perfect place for this particular client," Wilson said. "Because, as you know, Roy's takes those clients that find themselves in unusual situations — without resources, without a home, without anywhere to go. We provide an environment where clients feel safe … and where they will be cared for."

Kelman also writes for The (Palm Springs, Calif.) Desert Sun.

& Via

War friend hopes to jar amnesia victim's memory

Vietnam vet says he served alongside Michael Thomas Boatwright four decades ago.

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -- Four decades ago, two mechanics bonded under the hood of an aircraft, hidden in the belly of a massive ship, far off the coast of a country embroiled in war.

One of those men, Glenn Grant, 61, is still haunted by the memories of Vietnam. The other, Michael Thomas Boatwright, also 61, says he has no memory at all.

Grant said Monday he served alongside Boatwright, a Swedish-speaking amnesia patient now in Palm Springs, on the USS Midway aircraft carrier during the Vietnam War in 1972-73.

This weekend, Grant plans to travel from his home in the Long Beach, Calif., area to visit Boatwright, who has been stuck at Desert Regional Medical Center for five months. It's unlikely Boatwright will remember his brother-in-arms — or even understand him — but Grant said the visit is worth a shot.

Although some of Boatwright's friends and family have been located in recent weeks, they all live thousands of miles away, so opportunities to sit down with someone who has firsthand knowledge of his past has been extremely limited. Grant said Boatwright was a talented mechanic that mentored him on the Midway.

"I may not have known him for a hell of a long time, but we worked together for a month — maybe longer," Grant said. "I'm going to do this for me and for Michael. I just feel so sorry for this guy. I just can't believe it."

Boatwright was found unconscious in a Palm Springs motel room at noon on Feb. 28. He was sent to Desert Regional, where he awoke solely speaking Swedish despite being born in Florida. Boatwright insisted he couldn't remember his past or why he was in Palm Springs, but subsequent investigations revealed he came to the desert on Feb. 24 speaking English and seeking a job as a tennis coach. The hospital has diagnosed him with a form of dissociative amnesia.

Boatwright has neither insurance nor income, so Desert Regional has funded his five-month stay. Because the hospital believes it would be unsafe to release Boatwright into his own care, staff members have spent months searching for a way to discharge him.

Hospital spokesman Richard Ramhoff said case management staff members are talking to several people who may be able to help Boatwright, including his sister, Michelle Brewer of Louisiana.
Brewer, who lost contact with her brother a decade ago, was located by The Desert Sun one week ago.

While Boatwright has been stuck in the hospital, his story has traveled worldwide. The Desert Sun first reported his saga on July 7, and the memory mystery has since been published by dozens of news organizations across the globe.

Grant hadn't thought about his fellow veteran for years. But then he saw the headlines.

"I never heard from him again (after the war), but ... when I saw that name on the news article, I was just in total shock and disbelief," Grant said. "It's just a name you don't forget."

Military service confirmed

When found in February, Boatwright had with him his veteran's medical card and several other forms of identification. When contacted by Desert Regional, the Department of Veterans Affairs confirmed that Boatwright served as an Navy aviation mechanic from 1971 to 1973. The hospital is working to secure veterans disability benefits for Boatwright.

Boatwright's service during the Vietnam War was also confirmed by Ewa Espling, a woman who dated Boatwright when he lived in Sweden in the 1980s. Boatwright told Espling he repaired helicopters and transported dead or wounded soldiers. The horrors of war left him "damaged" and "restless inside," she said.

"He was not fighting on the ground but all the images from the war made him run from himself," she said. "And he tried to find a safe spot. Some days, he told me the only solution was an island without people."

Lest we not forget!

15th St. and M St. in DC, "The Houseless" at

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