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Veteran says V.A. failed to fix broken wheelchair

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Nathan Kump of Harrisburg is in the hospital after suffering a crash in his wheelchair. He says he’s been asking the Lebanon V.A. Medical Center to repair it or give him a new one for months, but it didn’t happen in time.

The wheelchair has a broken frame and caster wheel and it has been broken since December. Kump has been in a wheelchair since he broke his back in an accident in 2007; he was discharged from the Marine Corps.

Kump works at a friend’s garage in Harrisburg as a welder. As he left work on Monday, the wheel slipped back and he was thrown out of the chair, hitting his head on cement.

“I wasn’t flying, going three miles an hour and just, I ate it,” says Kump.  “And I was very foggy. I don’t remember really, the fall.”

He had a seizure and woke up in Harrisburg Hospital, where he is still being treated.

He says he called the V.A. repeatedly over the past several months for help. At one point, he says, a man did arrive to fix its brakes – but said he needed approval to fix the caster.

“If you have a scrub that looks like that in your car, you don’t get very far,” Kump says. “You’re not told, ‘we’ll get to you when we can, or we’ll get to you if we can.'”

Kump says he’s repaired it with his own money twice, each time it cost about $700.

“This is not a one or two week thing, this is months going back to December… I’m a man, I have pride just like every other man out there,” says Kump. “It’s a very difficult thing for a man to be laying out in the street, beaten and bloody from something he depends on.”

A spokesman for the Lebanon V.A. says Kump will need to sign a release form before they can discuss anything about the case. But he says they will work to resolve the issue.