War hero can't get around until wheelchair is repaired

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PHOENIX -- A hero from World War II needs help, so he contacted 3 On Your Side.

Garth Brown is more than just a war hero. He is a walking, talking history book. He's a Pearl Harbor survivor who has had his story told over and over.

In fact, his photo and his story were published in Life magazine at one time.

The 88-year old has lived quite a life and has a lot of memories from when he served his country.

"I was at Pearl Harbor on the Oklahoma when it sank," Brown said.

His story of bravery goes on and on. In fact, two other ships Brown was on also sank from enemy fire.

But after serving his country proudly for so long, this war hero is now having a difficult time.

"I feel like I served the country," he said. "They asked me to go to war and come out with 100 percent disability. It isn't too much to get a little physical help."

That help is an electric wheelchair -- a wheelchair he can't even use since it arrived in June.

The problem, Brown and his daughter claim, is that the leg rests of the wheelchair bend, causing pain in Brown's ankles.

They've tried unsuccessfully to get the leg rests repaired. In fact, a doctor even came up with a contraption for a short-term fix.

"The footrests are not strong enough to rest his foot," Brown's daughter said. "The doctor even used tongue depressors and tape to fix it."

"This wheelchair deal is one big headache," Brown said.

One big problem because if Brown's legs aren't supported properly, his feet swell.

In the meantime, Brown is confined to a manual wheelchair while the VA Medical Center tries to repair his electric one.

But Brown says the VA has tried several times before to fix the defective footrests and he always gets the chair returned with the same problem.

"I can't go out and get fresh air," Brown said. "There's a lot of places around here I can't go."

3 On Your Side got involved and contacted the VA Medical Center.

Initially, a spokesperson expressed disappointment that Brown and his daughter brought their problem to 3 On Your Side.

Regardless, the VA did say they would now escalate the matter to a resolution, saying, "In an effort to continue to assist Mr. Brown, we have contacted a representative for the manufacturer of the power wheelchair for further adjustments..."

Brown says that should have been done the first time he brought the matter to the VA's attention and feels helpless.

"It's pretty degrading," he said.

The maker of that wheelchair met with Brown today and realized those footrests do need to be replaced so they're ordering him new ones that are more sturdy. When they've arrived and are installed, we'll pay Brown another visit to see how he's doing.