Local News

Wilson Man, Seeking Mobility, Laments VA Paperwork

Posted March 8, 2007

— A veteran from Wilson who lost use of his legs after a back injury in Army training says he's caught in the military's red tape, waiting for the last piece of assistance that will let him use what he was given in 2005.

Jim Richardson, 43, considers his stack of paperwork to be a medal earned in battling the federal Department of Veterans Affairs over the aid he believes he is due because of his 1983 injury.

"When you try and fight them and you win, it's like you've done something, like you've accomplished something,” Richardson said Thursday.

He said he lost the use of both legs during Army training in Oklahoma. He hurt his back, he said, jumping through a barricade. Getting disability benefits took seven years, he said.

In 2005, the VA did give him a scooter to get around and a car lift so he could transport it.

There's just one problem.

“What do you need the lift and the scooter for, if you don't have anything to haul it on?” Richardson asked. The lift has been sitting in his shed because he doesn't have a vehicle to which he can attach it.

"That's what it's doing—collecting dust,” Richardson said, his frustration evident.

Richardson filed a claim with the VA for a vehicle grant in November 2005. Medical records prove he qualifies, he added. The VA denied the grant in April 2006, and Richardson appealed in July.

Each time the vet calls to check on the grant, however, he gets the same answer.

"They say the claim is being processed," he said.

The only way he gets around is hitching a trailer to his brother's car, he said.

Lacking the car to use the lift so he can use the scooter "keeps me home, confined a lot,” he said.

At least the VA has not lost track of Richardson.

WRAL’s Sloane Heffernan spoke with VA spokesman Vince Hancock on Thursday afternoon. He admitted the VA took too long to review Richardson's claim, saying, "We let him down." The appeal was not handled until October 2006.

It went to the VA in Durham on Feb. 2 for a second opinion, which is supposed to take 45 days.

Hancock said the department hates to use it as an excuse, but it is behind because of the volume of work. Richardson's case is one of 18,000 appeals awaiting a decision, he said. The agency handles about 60,000 claims every year.


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  • lock em up Mar 9, 2007

    "cont" for him because what the story does not tell you is how he probably went into an unimaginable amount of debt (through public hospitals and doctors) while waiting for the VA to help him. He deserves everything he needs to live as normal a life as possible.

  • lock em up Mar 9, 2007

    This man is not alone, go to the VA hospital in Durham, sit and wait for 4-8 hours and then be seen by an intern from the psychology or some other obscure department who can do nothing but a basic check up and then wait another 45 minutes while they disappear, and then sit and listen to this intern tell you that they cannot give you the treatment or the medication that you need to stop pain or help your situation until you have been assigned a doctor in the clinic. Then they will tell you that you can see a real doctor in around 6 months because that is how long it will take to get assigned. Until then suffer or find money that you do not have to pay out of your pocket. There are thousands of people in this situation and it is only getting worse. Bills will easily pile up because you end up having to go to a hospital that will treat you as well as charge you the good arm and leg that you still have. Point being is that I believe it is reasonable for the government to pay for a vehicle

  • regularguy_nc-at-yahoo.com Mar 9, 2007

    What the hell happened to:
    "Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth."
    Looks like the American version of that IS perishable and really beginning to rot!!!

    I had a broken leg, broken ribs, broken collar bone, skull fracture and a gunshot wound in the other leg with it temporarily paralyzed and the Soc. Sec. people sent me for a breathing test then sent me a letter saying there was no reason why I could not work at least 6 hours a day in a convenient store... That was about '88/'89. Had to get a lawyer and got the disability for the approximate year I was disabled just as I was on the verge of letting go of the one crutch I was still using... about a year from the first app. to Soc. Sec..
    The stupid government should be on dissability!!

  • Trooper Mar 9, 2007

    I don't think the People at the Dept. of Veteran Affairs can even go to the restroom in less than a week. There is absolutely no reason it should take so long to process claims, then again maybe we should pay them based on the number of claims handled and approved or legitimately declined rather than like an insurance company on the number declined. They send you paperwork and if you miss getting it back to them, you have to start all over with your claim. If you miss or reschedule an appointment due to sickness or for any reason and are rescheduled for appointment they will not give you another appointment you have to refile the claim. Don't even think that the Department of Veteran Affairs will not make false statement,or adjust test results to fit their will, they will in a heartbeat because they have no conscience at all.

  • painexpress Mar 9, 2007

    I am a service connected disabled vet , have been since 1970 . Getting anappointment at a VA hospital is harder than getting a seat on a space shuttle flight. I can't afford the high price hospital insurance, so I just tolerate the situation. I am praying for this mans problems.

  • norwinfischer Mar 9, 2007

    Hate to sound insensitive here JGrimes, but the government has provided medical expenses, a scooter, a lift, and most likely disability (hopefully 100% in Mr. Richardson's case) to him for his injury. Providing someone with a car too is asking a bit much. Next it will be he needs to have a driveway poured to park the car in or a garage for it. There are buses and van services available to the handicapped that they can use. I agree if he had a car and it required modifications so that he would be able to drive it that the government should pay for the conversion, but the thought of Uncle Sam having to flip the bill for the cost of the vehicle is a little much to ask for. That being said, I hope there is an individual or organization reading this that may be able to donate a vehicle for Mr. Richardson's use.

  • LibertarianTechie Mar 8, 2007

    Get this man the help he needs! If he was hurt by the government, then the government should pay up to have him fixed.