MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The VA hospital system has its share of critics, especially these days.
But in this week’s Pass It On, with red, white and blue flying everywhere, you’ll be glad to hear a story about a family thankful for the many doctors and nurses who’ve helped them through a terrible time.
And it’s a story that will make you proud to be a Mid-Southerner too, because our playmaker has a heart of gold.
Jeanne Regenold never dreamed she’d be nominating a Pass It On recipient until some perfect strangers came into her life about a month ago.
A family friend told her about a couple from middle Tennessee that needed help, and Jeanne decided to email us.
“He was injured ten months ago in an accident while helping his father do some work on his house. He fell, snapping his spinal cord, and is now paralyzed from the neck down. He was in the hospital in Michigan where the accident happened for three months.”
From the civilian hospital in Michigan, Ron Edwards and his wife Heather were transferred to a VA hospital in Cleveland, which specializes in spinal cord injuries, for six more months, until the VA decided it was time to relocate to a VA facility in the couple’s home state of Tennessee.
“Then they had to send him to Memphis after that and he arrived here about a month ago.”
That’s when Jeanne and her husband opened their house to Heather, so she’d have a place to stay while caring for her husband.
“I said, we live 40 minutes away, but she’s welcome to stay with us until we find something more suitable.”
But even with Jeanne’s help, Heather’s having to worry about money for gas and food, let alone things like mortgage payments for their home back in Columbia, Tenn.
Which is why Jeanne contacted us, and a few minutes after we give her the $600, she meets Heather.
“I’d like for you to meet this man down here and the one with the camera.”
Keep in mind Heather has never seen Pass It On, so after we meet, we explain how it works and Jeanne tells Heather she had to write in.
“I wrote him the story of you and Ron, and so I have something to pass on to you.”
Heather later sent us a video of when she shared the Pass It On surprise with Ron at his bedside, a place she’s been every day for past year, all because of a tragic accident that took only seconds.
But one thing Heather can count on is the help of friends, even those she’s only known a short time.
“I’ve been wanting to help her ever since she got here and it’s such a blessing for me to be able to help them.”
We asked Heather what she thought of the care Ron’s been getting.
The first three months after the accident he was in a civilian hospital, but because of his six years in the army, he went to VA facilities after that.
She said there’s good and bad to both, but one thing she has learned is to watch doctors and nurses like a hawk.