Veteran’s prosthetic legs repossessed 2 days before Christmas, VA vows to make him new ones
After the story of a Vietnam veteran who had his prosthetic legs repossessed sparked outrage across the country, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has promised to help.
Jerry Holliman, a Vietnam veteran and two-time Bronze Star recipient, has gone without his prosthetic legs for about a month, the Clarion Ledger reported.
Holliman, 69, told the Clarion Ledger his prosthetic legs were repossessed just two days before Christmas because neither the VA or Medicare would agree to cover the cost.
“Medicare did not send me to Vietnam,” Holliman told the Clarion Ledger in an earlier interview. “I was sent there by my country — with the understanding that if something bad happened to me, that it would be covered by the VA.”
Holliman was 18 when he volunteered to serve in Vietnam and was 53 when he went to fight in Iraq as a master sergeant. He earned a Bronze Star in both wars and said that between his active duty and time spent in the U.S. National Guard, his military career spanned 40 years.
VA says it will make a new pair of prosthetic legs for a veteran whose prosthetics were repossessed two days before Christmas. https://t.co/wASTVtWger
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) January 20, 2020
Holliman lost his legs because of complications from diabetes, which he possibly developed from exposure to Agent Orange while in Vietnam. His first amputation happened in 2018 and the second in 2019.
Overwhelmed with recovery and the mountain of confusing paperwork he received from the VA, Holliman did not understand how to navigate the proper channels to get his prosthetic legs paid for.
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”He was always under the impression, ‘These were my legs,’” Holliman’s son Jerald said. “What he’s done for his community, his country — for them to have taken these legs is an insult.”
Holliman ended up getting his prosthetic legs through a private company called Hanger, a company he said various medical staff steered him toward even though the VA has its own Prosthetic & Sensory Aids Service department in place.
Holliman said the prosthetic legs that were repossessed were returned to him shortly after he went to the media with his story, but they were not functional.
Jerry Holliman served 40 years in the military, was exposed to Agent Orange, survived 3 forms of cancer, and lost his legs to diabetes. Now, He’s fighting for his independence while the VA and Medicare debate responsibility for covering his prosthetic legs.https://t.co/gMchs6FZKD pic.twitter.com/sYgMvn1Gia
— Florida Times-Union (@jaxdotcom) January 11, 2020
Despite the confusing and frustrating road back to independence, it looks like Holliman will soon be able to walk again.
VA spokesman Matthew Gowan told the Clarion Ledger that the VA will provide Holliman with prosthetic legs at no cost.
Holliman said he is “cautiously optimistic” that the VA will follow through.
In the meantime, a private Mississippi company called Quest Prosthetics has reached out to help Holliman, prepared to fix the prosthetic legs that were repossessed in the first place.
“There’s some people that believe in you and will help you. That’s wonderful,” Holliman said of Quest. “It restored hope.”
Holliman said he is eager to return home and reclaim his life.
“I was independent before this happened,” Holliman said. “This is giving me my life back again.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.
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