U.S. Navy - Firefighter USS JOHN F. KENNEDY & U.S. ARMY
Jason “Jase” Wheeler, of Flower Mound, TX, served in both the U.S. Navy during the Gulf War, and the U.S. Army Airborne Infantry. He lost both of his legs, and most of his eyesight during a training exercise in 2002 while rappelling out of a Blackhawk helicopter. He crushed his L4-L5 Lumbar, sustained C3-C7 compressed neck injuries and rod damage in both of his eyes has left him legally blind. However, because his injuries occurred stateside and not during combat, he has had difficulty getting the assistance he desperately needs, and deserves from the VA.
“It is a national disgrace what our VA is NOT doing for our veterans. They are INDEED being left behind,” said Wheelchairs for Warriors Executive Director, Crystal Laramore.
In October 2019, Jase found himself in the spotlight when a photo of President Trump saluting him at a rally in Dallas went viral. Conservative grassroots activist Jennifer Jones Beauford posted a photo of Jase and his buddies on her Facebook page. “There are three gentlemen up very front and center. Brothers in arms. Literally. The man in the dark gray shirt gave his legs in service to this country. When President Trump came out, his buddies held him up because he didn’t want to be seated for his president. They held him up through most of the speech,” Beauford wrote, “We need to put pressure on our congress to fix the VA. We have wounded warriors like him falling through the cracks of the broken system and we are failing them as a country.”
Life for Jase has been difficult; to say the least: he has lost jobs, filed for bankruptcy, foreclosure and was even homeless. But, he managed to persevere through it all and feels blessed to have his children and his fiancé Kristi by his side.
Wheeler said in a Facebook post, “…then being saluted by President Trump on my brothers’ shoulder, all I can say is ‘America!!! Land of the Free because of men like these. Airborne Geronimo!!’”