A life-changing machine made a big impact on the life of a San Angelo veteran: the purchase of a wheelchair, an all-terrain power chair designed for use in rough terrain. With the help of the West Texas VA Health Care System, Bobby Boehm can do several outdoor activities that he couldn’t do before.
Boehm served from 1985 to 1995 in the US Marine Corps. He was a tow gunner and an infantry school instructor.
During his service, Boehm developed a condition called complex regional pain syndrome. The syndrome was caused by several accidents and injuries. He was in three separate helicopter crashes and also fell off a 150ft cliff in the middle of the night.
“When I fell off that cliff, my backpack and my radio saved my life,” Boehm said. “The good Lord was by my side and I’m grateful that I lived to tell my story.”
Grateful for VA doctors and care
Out of the Marine Corps in 1995, he sought VA care. “I am truly grateful to my doctors and the care provided by West Texas VA,” Boehm said.
VA provided him with a motorized wheelchair and vehicle adaptations, but Boehm felt he was still unable to do the things he loved, such as hunting and fishing.
“I watch a lot of videos online and came across the trackchair,” Boehm said. “I thought there was no way this could happen to me. But my wife encouraged me to ask, so I did.
Boehm contacted Glennis Thompson, a recreational therapist from West Texas VA. He expressed interest in purchasing a wheelchair, and Thompson got the ball rolling.
Appraisals and evaluations preceded President’s approval
After several patient assessments and assessments, Boehm got the wheelchair. But before purchasing the chair, Boehm underwent vigorous and extensive training with the company on how to use the equipment. He learned how to climb rocks, climb hills, ride in sand and mud, and most importantly, how to be safe when using the all-terrain chair.
“Being part of this process has been very rewarding,” said Thompson. “Sometimes veterans with disabilities have the mentality that their life has to end. Boehm is able to continue living her very independent life without any limitations.
Humbled that someone believed in me
“It is an honor to have received a chair like this,” Boehm said. “I’m honored that someone believed in me enough to help me get back to the fields and fish in the lakes.”
The all-terrain chair opens the way to a more dynamic life that restores the freedom to be able to hunt and fish again. Boehm is used to an active life. He can now enjoy those moments and create memories with his family and friends.
“This chair allows Bobby to access the outdoors and participate in activities that mean so much to him.” said Thompson. “It shows how committed we are to our veterans.
West Texas VA proudly serves veterans in 33 counties across 55,000 square miles of rural geography in West Texas and Eastern New Mexico. More than 56,000 veterans reside in the area, of which approximately 17,000 receive care here. On average, the health care system supports more than 170,000 outpatient appointments per year.