U.S. Army E4 Aviation Specialist Blackhawk Crewmember
When Leigh Talavera of Bastrop was just 27 years old, he was deployed to Bosnia during Operation Joint Endeavor. His duty was to remove an ESSS Tank (fuel tanks located on the outside of the combat helicopter wings). Unfortunately, a full tank (instead of an empty tank), containing 250 gallons of fuel weighing over 1,668 pounds, was released onto the U.S. soldier in error. The inertia of the full container ripped through his body, tearing his back muscles from his spine - L6/Sl area. He has a metal vertebrae and Teflon discs in his spine and has never fully recovered from his injuries, requiring him to be bound to a wheelchair and rendered 100 percent disabled as rated by the government.
“I feel like there are tornadoes going up my spine. It’s a very weird feeling and it makes me not even want to move and I don’t like taking heavy medication for the pain, so I suffer a lot,” said Talavera.
This courageous warrior has persevered for more than 10 years with his excruciating injuries. Unfortunately, the Veterans Administration did not provide Talavera with a proper mobility solution, and his old wheelchair was sub-standard for his needs.
The condition of Leigh’s wheelchair was a shock to us. And we have seen a lot. He had NO seating support. NONE. His seat was so thin and worn out that he was actually sitting on the bars of his chair. Besides the constant pressure sores, there is no telling how much further damage this lack of care caused him. Add to that the weight of his chair, about 52 pounds. IF Leigh ever joined his family on outings, his tiny wife had to lift that chair into and out of her car, coming and going. Think of the toll that took on his family. Wheelchairs for Warriors built Leigh, and his wife, a 14lb titanium wheelchair that provides Leigh with all of the comfort and pressure relief he needs, and it’s lightweight enough that his wife and his kids can pick it up with one hand! Now, Leigh is rolling strong and enjoys all of the family outings!