Michael Sulsona is a Vietnam War veteran who lost both his legs after stepping on a land mine 40 years ago. His wheelchair had repeatedly broken down and he 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.
One evening, his wheelchair fell apart again when he was shopping at a Lowe’s store on Staten Island. Three employees saw what happened and rushed to help him.
After placing Sulsona in another wheelchair, they tried to fix the chair, staying nearly an hour after the store had closed.
He wrote a touching tribute to the three men in a letter to his local paper, Staten Island Advance:
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.
Sulsona and his wife later returned to Lowe’s to thank the employees with homemade cookies and a framed photo of them fixing the chair.
Following Sulsona’s letter, VA finally sent him a replacement 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.
Here’s Sulsona in his new chair:
Many war heroes gave their lives, and some like Sulsona, sacrificed parts of themselves for our freedom. Thank you for your service and your sacrifice. We should never forget. Share this great story with others below.