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VA a no show; store workers fix vet's wheelchair

NEW YORK (AP) — What the Veterans Administration failed to do for double amputee Michael Sulsona in two years, some New York hardware store workers delivered in an hour: They fixed his broken wheelchair. The 62-year-old Vietnam veteran said he petitioned the VA for a new chair two years ago and received no reply. Then his wheelchair broke last week. When Sulsona was in a Lowe's home improvement store on Staten Island, a bolt on the already worn-out wheelchair snapped and a back wheel was about to fall off. Three Lowe's employees stayed late after their 10 p.m. closing time to do the repair, for free. "They said, 'You're not leaving till it's like new again,'" Sulsona recalled. The next day, Sulsona wrote a letter to his local newspaper, the Staten Island Advance, to thank the store's employees. "I kept thanking them and all they could say was, 'It was our honor,'" he wrote. "The actions of these three employees at Lowe's showed me there are some who still believe in stepping to the plate. ... Someone needed help and they felt privileged to be given the opportunity." After the letter to the newspaper, the VA got word of Sulsona and sent him a brand-new wheelchair Tuesday. Sulsona's new chair arrived in the wake of months of scandal in the VA's health care unit over complaints nationwide of long wait times and poor patient care. "We were very grateful that this was brought to our attention," said VA spokesman Jim Blue. "Too many vets wait too long to receive their health benefits." Sulsona, an ex-Marine, said he lost his legs in 1971 during an explosion while on patrol.

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