VA helps Vietnam Veteran get his life back


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Dale Herb knew something was going terribly wrong with him, but he couldn’t figure out what it was.

“Eleven years ago I had to stop working because of my health,” said the 67-year-old Vietnam Veteran.  “I was getting weaker and weaker.  I was breaking down physically. So I went to the VA because I thought they might have an idea what was wrong with me.  And they did.”

Not Good News

Herb’s doctors at the Chillicothe VA Medical Center told him he had Parkinson’s disease, a long-term degenerative disorder of the central nervous system.

“I got exposed to a lot of chemicals in Vietnam,” said the Army Veteran, who lives with his wife Deborah in Marietta, Ohio.  “I guess I’m paying the price for serving my country, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat.  I went out into the jungle and did what I was supposed to do.  All of us did.  We did our jobs.”

Herb said he’s glad he turned to the VA for help.

“I found out I had benefits I wasn’t aware of, so that’s been very helpful to me,” he said.  “The VA has been taking care of me.  I’m lucky, because there’s no way I could have paid for the medicine they’re giving me.  It’s very expensive.  Without the VA I would have had to choose between food or medicine.”

But no amount of medicine can permanently halt Parkinson’s in its tracks.  It’s a relentless disease that just keeps progressing.

“About a year ago I lost the use of my legs,” Herb said.  “I was homebound.  I couldn’t go anywhere.  It was hard on me and hard on my family.  It was hard on my wife because of all the strain it put on her.  She has health issues too.”

That’s when the VA stepped in once again with a solution.

On the Road Again

“They gave me a special van* that I could drive using just my hands,” he said.  “They paid for six driver rehab lessons so I could learn how to drive my new van.  Then they gave me a powered wheelchair so I can go up the ramp and into my van.  I can get around now.  I’ve got my independence again.  After a year at home I’m getting reacquainted with my community.”

“The quality of his life will be so much better now,” said Herb’s wife, Deborah.  “This is exciting.  I can’t explain what this means to us.”

“If you’re a Veteran and you need help, I would strongly encourage you to go to the VA.”

Herb said the best part about his new van is that he can visit his three adult children and nine grandchildren whenever he wants.

“They all live within four miles of us,” he said, “so we’re blessed.  Just last week I went to see my oldest grandson play in a basketball game.”

Good People

The Army Veteran said he’s also grateful to the VA for helping him out with yet another health issue:  the post traumatic stress he developed as a result of his service in Vietnam.

“I had a very good doctor at the Chillicothe VA who helped me through some rough times,” he said.  “She’s an extraordinary person, and she’s the reason I’m alive today.  There were times when I was ready to give up, but she made all the difference in the world.  And she does this for Veterans on a day-to-day basis.

“I believe there are some people who don’t just have a job…they have a gift,” he continued.  “She has a gift.”

He reflected for a few moments, then added:  “There are a lot of good people at the VA.”

To learn more about Parkinson’s disease, the research VA is conducting on Parkinson’s or where to find help if you have this disease or think you might, visit http://www.parkinsons.va.gov/care.asp

*Eligibility criteria: For financial assistance in purchasing a new or used automobile, a Veteran must be service-connected for a disability resulting in: loss or permanent loss of use of one or both feet; loss or permanent loss of use of one or both hands.

Other eligibility criteria include: impairment of vision in both eyes, certain severe burn injuries, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

This entitles Veterans to an automobile grant (purchase of the car). They are also entitled to adaptive equipment for that car (lifts, seats, steering, etc.) if they have the disabilities listed above.


Photo by: Peyton Neely, Marietta Times. Used with permission.

Author

Tom Cramer

Comments

    1. Donna Riviere Graves    

      We went to the VA from 2009 until my husband’s death from a fall that could have been prevented had the va not wrongfully and repeatly denied my 100% combat wounded, granted full retirement because of his injuries husband the grant to make our home handicap accessible!

  1. Mike Smith    

    Nice uplifting article. It’s good that more vets are realizing they might be able to get some help after they helped their country. I know not all volunteered, but they did answer the call whether it came in the mail or came in their heart.

    Some vets don’t remember how often they had to hurry up and wait while they were in the service. That’s just how bureaucracy works, but I hope those who can benefit from the help they deserve can be patient enough to get the help.

    I hope for the best for Dale, life is enough of a struggle without getting clobbered with Parkinson’s on top of all the rest.

  2. Jeffrey R. Adkins    

    Things like this are frikin AWESOME. OOORAH & SEMPER FI 68 – 72 Some people down the VA, but I fer one wanna say that they help VET’S as much as possible until they’re annual allotted funds run out.

  3. Yeng Xiong    

    I want to know. Why the Lao-Hmong SGU Veteran never get any help. I think U.S. VA is only joke and fake news. I served for U.S. CIA during the U.S. War with Vietnam in Lao. It is as today. I am an empty hand from U.S. VA. None of Lao-Hmong SGU get any help. Well. Only heard this. SGU bill is on the floor and never even take a look at the joke fake bill. Just let it die at the congress floor for good.

  4. John Thompson Jr Esq    

    Total BS….the VA will pay for the chair….you get a grant for the van which does not come close to paying for such a VA. I have the chair…great for around the block outside to get some air but wish I could take it some where and get off and then move around in another area with friends etc

  5. Guy Culver    

    The president signed a bill recently so that veterans can pick a doctor of thier chose for peole that live far from a VA facility this will be a blessing for us, driving more than an hour is excruciating for me due to my injuries, I am so appreciative for this new change.

  6. G. Elmo Nealy    

    I love to hear these stories. It reinforces my belief and faith in people wanting to do good for Veterans. BRAVO!!!

  7. Michael    

    Where would I apply for assistance?

  8. Tamara Cruse    

    Nice to know not all VAs are alike where I am I can’t get them to do that for me. Although I do qualify. Took them 2 yrs to get me a lift chair. It’s been a 14 yr battle for me. Battling not being able to more and they don’t care here. I’m not the right care of person I guess.

  9. James Tobleck    

    40 years of pain with bone on bone left knee, Battle Creek Director and Chief Med.Services still deny my total knee replacement in Muskegon, Mi. Hackley Hospital or Mercy Hospital 5 miles from my home. June 27th will be 41 years of extreme pain requiring Narcotic pain pills. My pain and lack of operation’s gets them bonuses, promotion’s . Director Shukin please appoint an ombudsman to correct the travesty , that’s caused a living he’ll for 4 decades.

  10. Leon Suchorski    

    Except that I have Parkinson’s,need back surgery, need my left knee replaced, they want to put an implant in my brain to help control my tremors of the Parkinson’s, have COPD to hinder my efforts at exertion, and the VA has given me an electric scooter, but they will not give me the means to get it and me around anyplace. Isn’t that a hoot at the Ann Arbor, Michigan VA?

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