Two nonprofit groups have joined together to provide multiple amputee veterans with “souped-up” powered wheelchairs.
There is a common misconception that the VA guarantees powered wheelchairs to those veterans who have had multiple limbs amputated, but that is not actually the case. In fact, the government does not formally promise that type of assistance to any of it’s wounded veterans. The Public Affairs office of the VA reports that there are currently no policies in existence that “guarantee all multiple amputee veterans powered wheelchairs.”
VA spokesperson Mark Ballesteros told the Huffington Post in an email, “VA does not have a specific policy regarding provision of power chairs to amputees. Each veteran is evaluated by their health care team to prescribe the mobility device(s) most appropriate for them and to best meet their individual needs.” So two nonprofit groups, the Independence Fund and Truckin For Troops, have teamed up to purchase multiple-terrain powered wheelchairs for multiple amputee veterans.
According to Fox News, the Independence Fund has purchased 150 chairs, each of which cost around $15,000, since April.
After the chairs are purchased, Scott Mallary, the founder of Truckin For Troops, stores them at his farm which is located close to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center where most multiple amputee vets recover. Mallary’s farm also serves as a testing ground for the chairs, and a place for the veterans to familiarize themselves with their new mode of transportation.
The multiple-terrain chairs give vets the opportunity to go places and do things that a “regular” wheelchair would not have access to. These souped-up chairs are also vital for the veterans, even those who are not multiple amputees, who live in rural areas or on large rural properties. Staff Sgt. Thomas McRae, who lost both legs and an arm in Afghanistan said, “This chair will give me the freedom to get out and move around on my own property. Also, I’ve always liked hunting, getting out and doing that kind of stuff. That is definitely not something I can do without a little bit of a more specifically designed wheelchair. And this gives me that.”