Military veteran does battle with VA over spare wheelchair

Posted by Bryan Henry  -  bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Six months and counting and still no backup wheelchair for Lavonnya Mixon's husband Alvin.

"It's not right to stall like they do," said Mrs. Mixon.

A 'plan B' that is so desperately needed just in case if Mixon's current chair breaks down.

"If this goes down he'll be confined to the bed and he wont' be able to move about," said Mixon.

Alvin Mixon wrapped up a 20-year career in the Army, winning a wall full of awards for his recruiting efforts.

One year after his retirement, Mr. Mixon was diagnosed with Lou Gerig's disease. The Mixons say Tri-Care and Medicare paid for current wheelchair but also claim his military background allows him to get a free backup from the VA.

In fact, Mrs. Mixon says representatives from the VA office in Tuskegee even said her husband needed one.

"They came out and did the assessment and told us he needed a backup wheelchair," said Mixon.

The regional VA facility on Perry Hill Road in Montgomery confirms the fact Mr. Mixon is entitled to a spare but tell a slightly different story in terms of getting one to him.

VA officials say they actually offered a backup to Alvin Mixon in early April. Mixon, we're told, felt he needed something more specialized. Consequently, ordering the backup meant a more detailed process through the government for approval.

"It's stressful on him because he doesn't want anything to go wrong because then it will become stressful to me because I'm the primary caregiver," said Lavonnya Mixon.

The Mixons believe this is a classic case of red tape and miscommunications. The VA says 'if a military veteran believes it took too long, then it took too long.'

The bottom line is Alvin Mixon's spare is due to arrive at his Deatsville home next week on June 24th.

The spare Mixon is getting is not cheap. It costs around $35,000, one reason why the process took a little longer than normal.

A VA assessment team has already paid a visit to Mixon's home and agreed his bathroom, for instance, needs to be remodified. It's not clear whether Mr. Mixon's military benefits will cover the construction costs on that remodification.

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