SGT. SHAFT: Daughter of veteran with Lou Gehrig’s disease seeks VA help

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Dear Sgt. Shaft:

Please help my dad. The VA doesn’t care. For three years, my dad has been battling with twitching and a weakness that started in his leg. He went to the VA doctors first in Des Moines then in Kansas City. For over a year, they told him he had just had a stroke and sent him to therapy for it.

Six months ago, they finally diagnosed him with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) and said it was caused from Agent Orange from serving in Vietnam.

He finally got a wheelchair a month ago but still hasn’t received a vehicle to use it in. He can barely walk now but can’t leave the house because he doesn’t have a vehicle to take his wheelchair, which is basically useless.

My mom, who is in her 60s and can barely lift him, has to get him in and out of the bathtub and try to do everything for him.

Why hasn’t the VA sent someone to their house to help? Why hasn’t the VA got him a vehicle? What good is a wheelchair you can’t even use it?

If I could afford to quit my job, I would go help them as I am the youngest and the most physically capable in the family. However I live the farthest away. I am trying to contact all I can to help him get the assistance he deserves.

Every day he grows weaker and I’m afraid he will become permanently paralyzed or die before he gets a vehicle to put his chair in. He has doctors appointments and other things to take care of and will not be able to go if he doesn’t get a vehicle.

I feel like the VA doesn’t care at all and so does my mom. She has contemplated just buying it all herself so it will get done, but it will take everything they have to get it. Thank you.

Trisha S.
Via the Internet

Dear Trisha:

I have contacted the powers that be at the Department of Veterans Affairs and asked them to provide appropriate assistance for your dad. Also, my friends at the Paralyzed Veterans of America tell me that ALS, often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s disease,” is a progressive neuro-degenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.

The VA recognizes this disease as service connected for all veterans who have served on active duty for at least 90 consecutive days, and VA monetary compensation can be granted from the date of claim. There is no requirement to establish any other type of relationship such as exposure to Agent Orange.

The initial grant of service connection, based only on the diagnosis of the condition is at 100 percent. Other ancillary benefits such as entitlement to a grant toward the purchase of a specially adapted van, and for accessibility adaptations to a home, require medical documentation of the current level of disability.

You may wish to contact the Paralyzed veterans of America directly at 1-866-0857 or on line at www.pva.org. The Veterans Benefits Department at PVA is dedicated to serving paralyzed veterans including those with ALS and MS (Multiple Sclerosis).

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