Some local veterans are coming to the aid of one of their own, who has been stranded in his home as a result of an accident four years ago.
The Royse City American Legion post is assisting Gary Wilkins, a veteran, to raise the neccesary down payment for a wheelchair-accessible vehicle,
“He has been through so much and has heard so many no’s, that for once, I would like him to be able to reach his goal,” said Jason Castleberry, Post Adjutant of Laramore-Osborne American Legion Post 100.
Wilkins said he understands the VA’s decision not to fund the vehicle, but said “it has been a long, drawn out process.”
Castleberry said his post is assisting Wilkins, despite Wilkins’ limited time as a Marine.
“Actually, if you have served for one day and are honorably discharged, you are still considered a veteran,” Castleberry said.
Wilkins was involved in a motor vehicle accident while riding his motorcycle on his way home on May 21, 2014.
‘It shattered my whole left side,” Wilkins said. His spleen was removed and he suffered a severe concussion.
“I was in a coma from May 21 to July 14, 2014,” Wilkins said.
Wilkins survived multiple surgeries to rebuild his leg, although he suffered from great deal of pain, leading to a full replacement of his left knee in April 2016.
“But about two weeks later, I had extensive pain again,” he said.
Wilkins leg had developed an infection that required an amputation.
“Suddenly a man that enjoyed the freedom of riding his motorcycle was now homebound,” Castleberry said.
“I’ve been in my house since August 2016, except for going to the doctors,” Wilkins said.
Last year the VA provided Wilkins with a power wheelchair which allowed him to travel outside his home, but he is unable to carry the device in his current vehicle.
Wilkins applied for assistance from the VA in February and again in September last year.
“The VA denied it, saying it was not service-connected,” he said. “I’ve been hoping and praying. I have no other options.”
Castleberry stepped in, having known and befriended Wilkins, who is also a member of the American Legion.
“Now the local American Legion post is attempting to raise enough money for a down payment so he can purchase a vehicle equipped with the necessary equipment so he can regain his mobility and freedom he lost with his amputation,” Castleberry said.
“As long as I get a good down payment, I can deal with that,” Wilkins said. “Some of those vehicles cost up to $75,000.”
As of Tuesday morning, the effort had raised $1,835 of its $7,000 goal.
“If businesses would like to donate to his cause, they can make the donations directly to the Royse City American Legion by contacting me or through the Go Fund Me page,” Castleberry said.
Castleberry can be reached by calling 903-274-0702, while the Go Fund Me page, is www.gofundme.com/help-disabled-vet-get-vehicle.