Patterico's Pontifications

7/16/2014

The Kindness Of Strangers Shames The VA

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:24 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Because the VA continues to be a source of frustration, it’s wonderful to read about the kind generosity of strangers shown one veteran.

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Vietnam veteran Michael Sulsona, who stepped on a land-mine in Vietnam and lost both of his legs above the knees, has been waiting for the VA to provide him a new wheelchair for the last two years. Unfortunately, the VA has denied his request.

Last week, while shopping at his local Lowe’s, his wheelchair fell apart. A few employees witnessed this, and instead of just making a call for him, or telling their supervisor, they set out to fix his wheelchair. Not only fix it, but make it as good as new.

In appreciation, Sulsona wrote a thank-you letter to the local newspaper:

“In 1971, I stepped on a land mine in Vietnam and lost both legs above the knee.

For the past two years, I have been waiting to receive a new wheelchair from the Veterans Administration. In addition, I have been told that I am not entitled to a spare wheelchair.

On the evening of July 7, my wheelchair fell apart again, while shopping at Lowe’s Home Improvement Center in on Forest Avenue in Mariners Harbor.

Three employees, David, Marcus and Souleyman jumped to my assistance immediately. They placed me in another chair while they went to work. They took the wheelchair apart and replaced the broken parts and told me, “We’re going to make this chair like new.”

I left 45 minutes after closing hours in my wheelchair that was like new.

I kept thanking them and all they could say was, “It was our honor.”

The actions of these three employees at Lowe’s showed me there are some who still believe in stepping to the plate.

They didn’t ask any questions, didn’t feel the need to fill out any forms or make phone calls. Someone needed help and they felt privileged to be given the opportunity.”

After hearing of the incident, VA Spokesperson, VA New York/New Jersey Healthcare Network stated that Sulsona would receive a new custom wheelchair.

“We were very sorry to hear about the reported circumstances surrounding Mr. Sulsona’s request for a new wheelchair. We quickly investigated and can report the Veteran’s new custom wheelchair was delivered to him today and it along with his back up will be serviced by the VA as needed.

Too many Veterans wait too long to receive their care and benefits, and this has never been acceptable. Providing Veterans like Mr. Sulsona the quality care and benefits they have earned through their service is our most important mission at the Department of Veterans Affairs.”

Clearly, if Mr. Sulsona was told no for two years, then waiting too long to receive care is not only perfectly acceptable, but standard practice.

–Dana

35 Responses to “The Kindness Of Strangers Shames The VA”

  1. I want to buy a watch found here seems pretty good, do not know to pick the help of everyone to the point.
    http://www.fashionwatch.biz

    Day Date (999327)

  2. this made me cry already

    i think it was yesterday

    ok now today too

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  3. “We were very sorry to hear about the reported circumstances surrounding Mr. Sulsona’s request for a new wheelchair. We quickly investigated and can report the Veteran’s new custom wheelchair was delivered to him today and it along with his back up will be serviced by the VA as needed.

    Too many Veterans wait too long to receive their care and benefits, and this has never been acceptable. Providing Veterans like Mr. Sulsona the quality care and benefits they have earned through their service is our most important mission at the Department of Veterans Affairs.”

    Oh shut up, you hack bureaucrat. How come this guy waits two years for a new wheelchair, but somehow when the bad publicity hits the media you find one for him within 24 hours? In a sane world everyone at the NY/NJ Veteran’s Administration office upon whose desk Mr. Sulsona’s application for a new wheelchair has landed these past two years would be immediately fired.

    JVW (feb406)

  4. happyfeet,

    I found a photo of Susona in the hospital after the blast. He was so young and handsome, with his whole life ahead of him – and yet, forever changed. It’s always so humbling to see what people are able to survive and overcome in this life.

    Dana (4dbf62)

  5. Very heartwarming and angering both at the same time. Thanks Dana.

    elissa (1d9a3d)

  6. “Too many Veterans wait too long to receive their care and benefits, and this has never been acceptable. Providing Veterans like Mr. Sulsona the quality care and benefits they have earned through their service is our most important mission at the Department of Veterans Affairs.”

    Words. Just words.

    Ag80 (eb6ffa)

  7. i’m very

    chary

    of over-doing the respect for veterans

    I never want our soldiers to be considered a superior class of american, cause of how not consonant with America that sort of value system is

    but we’re in no danger of over-doing it are we?

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  8. 7. Mr. Feets, just how do you expect to escape LA when the next lit cigarette falls to Earth?

    gary gulrud (46ca75)

  9. Feets, the VietNam era soldiers got the rawest of raw deals. Both from the government and from their countrymen. In my opinion we will never be able to adequately make it up to them. There were so so many of them that went away young and beautiful and didn’t come back at all or were permanently scarred physically and mentally from what they saw and had to do.

    elissa (1d9a3d)

  10. Ref: VA officials
    As my Dad used to ask, “How come there are more horses a$$es than horses?”

    If the VA had not been shamed into acting, Mr. Sulsona would never have received a chair. I also salute the Lowe’s employees for doing what was needed.

    Dave (f5fb18)

  11. i’m working on my escape plan now Mr. gary

    there are so many variables

    I think the thing to do is to move my stuffs to a storage unit in Kingman or Sedona, and then later move them to my sister’s place if she successfully divorces that person

    I like Kingman cause of how real it is

    I like Sedona cause of how fanciful it is

    but anyway my way out of here

    I’m trying to convince myself

    begins and ends with hiking the john muir trail

    solo

    followed by another epic road trip up the west coast and then eastwards to new england, and then up into canada

    which means

    pikachu gonna need a passport

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  12. If you plan it right you can avoid voting in the next election, too, Happyfeet!

    elissa (1d9a3d)

  13. complications:

    * I have a very enmeshed relationship with my perky orthodontist – I think we have 6 more months of braces then whatever we do next

    * I don’t really wanna do another road trip in barack obama’s america – I done that already – I want the meter and cadence of america to change up a bit before i head out again

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  14. VietNam was special cause it was such a drafty little skirmish elissa

    that was so so wrong

    but I love pho

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  15. Heading out toward gg’s bunker and reporting back here about it is another roadtrip option. He might let you in if you promised to cook. And we’re all very curious about his spread.

    elissa (1d9a3d)

  16. 11. Ok, its a plan. My plan to see the next generation through the conflagration involves being a suck up to vets and truckers. Trying to go it alone has too many imponderables.

    gary gulrud (46ca75)

  17. 13. 6 months, a little iffy but conceivable. Don’t loiter tho.

    gary gulrud (46ca75)

  18. a deep dive into minnesota and iowa is for sure on the itinerary

    and wisconsin

    I’m nolt going it alone Mr. gary at the end of my sojourn

    I’m landing somewheres in the south

    Vicksburg? Gainesville? Newport, Tennessee?

    or maybe colorado

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  19. *not* going it alone I mean

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  20. voting in the next election

    i know voting is super-important but how you vote the other three hundred sixty odd days of the year is super-important too elissa

    this is why living in california has become morally untenable

    plus that whole tax-rape thing

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  21. 15. One acre on high ground, 5 beds, 3 baths, wooded, obstructed view of the river, lake country living among smallish farms. Pizza delivery available, no bus line.

    gary gulrud (46ca75)

  22. you has maples to tap?

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  23. 22. Personally no, one sickly silver maple and a boxelder. Mostly basswood and western red cedar, some white oak in front with a few birch down the rear escarpment.

    gary gulrud (46ca75)

  24. i love birches cause of mr. frost

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  25. 23. Silver maple make light, tasty syrup and we do have a benefactor for our own delectation.

    gary gulrud (46ca75)

  26. pancakes with for reals maple syrup make the neo-fascist apocalypse way more tasty than it has any real right to

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  27. 18. If you do head out this way, towards SD, I’ll give you directions to our boeotian heaven.

    gary gulrud (46ca75)

  28. i’ll be sure to check in i promise

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  29. if things go pear shaped any time soon, Mr Feets can seek shelter w/us. he’s just down the road, and i figure he’ll figure out the fine art of loading magazines pretty quick, if it comes to that. 8-)

    redc1c4 (abd49e)

  30. remember, this is the same VA that told me i’m not entitled to care for the injuries i got in uniform, because, as a reservist, i didn’t get enough time active to be a veteran in their eyes, even though i have a Retired Reserve ID card issued to me by the DOD.

    funny how that w*rks, eh?

    redc1c4 (abd49e)

  31. The fact that the wheelchair broke proved, finally, that it needed to be rerplaced,and the fact that it wass fixed was not taken into consideration.

    (actually it sounds like he had a request for a better wheelchair, as well as a spare wheelchair, so it wasn’t quote as stupid as that.)

    People on Medicare get issued wheelchairs for almost no reason at all.

    Sammy Finkelman (ff268d)

  32. Dana,

    I am a Marine currently stationed in northern Virginia. Luckily, I have never been injured and cannot speak for my brothers and sisters who have.

    But, what I can say, is that I routinely see generosity like this from Marines and civilians alike directed at our injured service members. This country is beyond indebted to them and it is a debt that we can never repay.

    I frequently get uneasy when people thank me for my service. After all, I’ve lived a pretty good life, have a good family, and have not been subjected to the horrors that some service members have. Why should I be thanked? Go thank people like these Lowes employees or Mr. Sulsona.

    Many companies offer a “standard” 10% military discount (like Lowes). And, of course, that is appreciated. But, the actions of these gentlemen speak much louder than a 10% discount. These men are heroes to Mr. Sulsona and role models for all of us. Thanks for bringing us this story.

    Ryan (b16f18)

  33. 29. Ima thinkin’ this time next year, especially if we get a break from the cool weather.

    gary gulrud (46ca75)

  34. thanks Mr. red

    this place’ll be pretty scary if the s ever really hits the fan

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  35. I wonder how many more veterans are out there waiting for treatment, and won’t get it because there’s no publicity to pressure the VA into acting? I think some of these bureaucrats should be charged with RICO crimes, since, according to many employees testifying before Congress, the VA is run like a criminal enterprise.

    Maybe hauling them into court, and taking away their cushy federal salaries, pensions and benefits will get their attention.

    rochf (f3fbb0)

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