“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.”
A “smoking gun” has surfaced in the scandal currently rocking the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. In an email obtained by CBS News, a worker at the VA Medical Center in Cheyenne, Wyo., instructs others on how to game the scheduling system so as not to upset the front office.
The email, written by Telehealth Coordinator David Newman, a registered nurse, describes how patients at the Cheyenne VA Medical Center are always listed getting appointments within a 14-day window, no matter when the appointment was first requested, and no matter how long the patient actually waited.
The memo admitted, “Yes, this is gaming the system a bit…” because “when we exceed the 14 day measure, the front office gets very upset, which doesn’t help us.”
The employee further instructs staff on how to “get off the bad boys list” by “cancelling the visit (by clinic) and then rescheduling it with a desired date within that 14 day window.”
Just yesterday, Congress issued a subpoena to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki seeking emails and documents related to delays of medical care for veterans at a Phoenix, Ariz., VA hospital. One retired doctor has alleged that as many as 40 veterans may have died while waiting for treatment.
Exactly 96 years ago today, World War I came to an end. With the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on November 11, 1918, the war was officially over. It culminated on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
Hence, Veterans Day is observed every year on November 11. It is the day upon which we commemorate the brave individuals who have served our country. Likewise, as President Abraham Lincoln once stated:
Honor to the soldier and sailor everywhere, who bravely bears his country’s cause. Honor, also, to the citizen who cares for his brother in the field and serves, as he best can, the same cause.
Veterans Day is meant to embody these sentiments, and rightfully so.
Yet, the sad truth is that this country has habitually failed its veterans. Thus, while President Lincoln’s words will always be appropriate, the tweet below more accurately encapsulates the current relationship between this country and its veterans.
Dear veterans: Thank you. It’s disgraceful that we, as a nation, don’t take better care of you after you’ve served our country.
The United States was born out of conflict, and has been at war throughout much of its existence. It has a strong military tradition. Indeed, we should be proud of the selfless individuals who have risked life and limb to perpetuate our privileges and safety. At the same time, we should be ashamed of the way we have repaid their sacrifice.
Thus, it’s time for this country to be honest about the disgraceful way it treats its veterans. We have no right to call ourselves “the greatest country in the world” when we don’t fight for those who fight for us.
A large part of the reason so many veterans are homeless is due to the physical and mental health problems they’ve acquired as a consequence of war. Concurrently, due to the economic constraints that veterans face, they often experience severe mental stress when attempting to adjust back to civilian life.
Imagine coming home from war and having to deal with the trauma of that experience while also struggling to pay the bills. Around 77 percent of veterans have faced unemployment, and more than one out of four have faced job searches that last over a year.
This is perhaps the most tragic and disheartening statistic surrounding those who have served. Furthermore, the detrimental impact this devastating trend is having on the families of these veterans is often overlooked.
Indeed, the US military is exceptionally impressive, and an extremely formidable force.
Yet, in spite of all the money this country spends on war, nearly 350,000 veterans of the War on Terror still have outstanding appeals on benefits they are entitled to. These benefits include everything from direct compensation, to pensions, to education.
If America is going to spend billions of dollars on the military every year, it goes without saying that a large portion of this money should be allocated to support the nation’s veterans.
Firstly, we need to pressure the Department of Veterans Affairs to improve and expand its services. We can do this, in part, by reaching out to politicians and calling on them to continue to address this issue.
Likewise, it’s important that we provide support to the families of veterans within our communities. Additionally, we can volunteer with various veterans programs, such as TAPS and the Jericho Project, to name a few.
Veterans are very often stereotyped into two stock characters: the crying wounded or the guy who jumps the White House fence to get to the president.
Don’t treat us like victims. We’re not broken. We’ve been through a lot, but we’re rising out of it.
It’s true that veterans face a number of serious challenges, but it would be wrong to assume that they don’t possess the grit and optimism to overcome them. After all, many of these individuals have survived combat. If you can live through war, you can accomplish anything.
Thus, on this Veterans Day, remember the sacrifice of the countless men and women who have served this country.
Simultaneously, work toward spreading awareness of the many ways we can improve our treatment and reception of these courageous individuals. Start the conversation, this is the first step toward change.
In a scathing appraisal, a review ordered by President Barack Obama of the troubled Veterans Affairs health care system concludes that medical care for veterans is beset by “significant and chronic system failures,” substantially verifying problems raised by whistleblowers and internal and congressional investigators.
A summary of the review by deputy White House chief of staff Rob Nabors says the Veterans Health Administration must be restructured and that a “corrosive culture” has hurt morale and affected the timeliness of health care. The review also found that a 14-day standard for scheduling veterans’ medical appointments is unrealistic and that some employees manipulated the wait times so they would appear to be shorter.
Unfortunately, Senate Democrats weren’t quite so receptive to the prospect of accountability for VA employees. Today, Marco Rubio requested that the Senate take up and pass the bill. Vermont socialist Bernie Sanders, speaking on behalf of the Dems, agreed to … a hearing: