Local Reservist Understandably Surprised By Latest Order
Posted August 19, 2004 12:20 p.m. EDT
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Many Army reservists are being called to active duty to help in the war on terrorism. But a Cumberland County man was more than surprised to get the order -- and for good reason.
He is a paraplegic.
Almost three years ago, Tim Wallen, 34, was paralyzed when a tree fell on his head.
When the reservist recently received his mobilization packet, he called the Army with a special request.
"You need to figure out what to do with my wheelchair," he said he told them.
The order came by mail.
"You are being relieved of your reservist status and are offered to report for a period of active duty," Wallen read from the letter.
Wallen is needed as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He said he would be glad to join fellow soldiers if he could.
"Right now, they are over there helping people," he said. "That's my main concern -- to help people."
He said he has sent off paperwork and shared his medical condition several times with Army officials during the past few years.
"I've called them consistently and constantly," Wallen said.
Wallen was treated at the Fayetteville Veterans Administration Hospital. He said that when he first was hospitalized after the accident, his colonel came to see him.
Nevertheless, the Army still has not acknowledged his injury.
"It's very frustrating," he said.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Army Human Resources Command said it appears Wallen's unit never forwarded his medical records to them. So, they do not have his information in their system.
Now, that Wallen has been activated, an exemption board can hear his case if he sends proof.
The former correctional officer just hopes the Army can get it straight once and for all.
"I'm trying to get on with my life," said Wallen, who is working toward a master's degree in psychology and hopes to work with juvenile offenders. "I'm not trying to let the wheelchair or anything else get in my way. But this is taking away from me doing that."