“Someone needed help and they felt privileged to be given the opportunity.” UPDATE: The VA also sent Michael Sulsona a brand new wheelchair.
1. Michael Sulsona is a Vietnam veteran who has been waiting for a new wheelchair for the last two years. He says the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) has denied his requests for a replacement.
2. Last week, his wheelchair finally fell apart as he was shopping at Lowe’s. A few employees saw what happened and Sulsona was shocked at how quickly they were ready to help. He wrote a beautiful letter to his local paper about the experience:
“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.”
According to VA Spokesperson, VA New York/New Jersey Healthcare Network, Sulsona received a custom wheelchair and have pledged to service his chair when he needs it:
“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.”
Chris DiMaria, the store manager at the Lowe’s wear Sulsona’s chair was rebuilt, told BuzzFeed via a Lowe’s spokesperson that he was incredibly proud to have helped the veteran.
“Whether a customer needs assistance repairing their home or a wheelchair, our employees are ready to spring into action to help,” DiMaria said. “Marcus, David and Souleymane are a perfect example of the culture we embody here at Lowe’s, and I could not be more proud of my team or our company.”