When the VA Refused to Help This Vet, These Inspiring People Stepped In

After two years without VA assistance, Michael Sulsona finally had his broken wheelchair tuned up by Lowe’s employees.

(Photo: Courtesy Michael Sulsona)

Jul 17, 2014· 1 MIN READ
Isabel Weisz is an editorial intern for summer 2014. She is an environmental analysis & policy major at Pitzer College and is originally from Santa Cruz, Calif.

Michael Sulsona didn’t go to Lowe’s to buy a new wheelchair, but that’s essentially what he left with.

Sulsona, who lost both legs in 1971 when he stepped on a landmine while serving in Vietnam, had been waiting for more than two years to receive a new wheelchair from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Where the VA failed him, three Lowe’s employees pulled through and delivered, Sulsona explained in a letter to his local newspaper, the Staten Island Advance.

While he was shopping at Lowe’s on July 7, Sulsona’s wheelchair fell apart because of three broken bolts. Employees David, Marcus, and Souleyman came to the rescue. A short 45 minutes after the store closed, the broken parts were all replaced, and the chair “was like new,” Sulsona told the paper.

Soon after the story came out and BuzzFeed picked it up, the VA said a new wheelchair was sent to Sulsona, and that “it, along with his backup, will be serviced by the VA as needed.” With nearly 9 million veterans enrolled for care, thousands of cases like Sulsona’s have fallen through the cracks, a recent congressional inquiry revealed.

Lowe’s, on the other hand, is a proud mama right now. Chris DiMaria, the manager at the store where the incident took place, told BuzzFeed, “Marcus, David, and Souleyman are a perfect example of the culture we embody here at Lowe’s.”

That the three employees so readily took the time to help this vet is heartwarming. Sulsona poignantly summed things up by saying, “No phone calls, no questions, no incident report, no ambulance. This is how the VA should be working.”