Parents Joe and Cola Weaver stand next to their son, National Guard veteran SP4 Warren Boyette, who was paralyzed on the left side of his body after suffering a stroke eight years ago. Severe swelling in his legs is requiring the family to seek treatment in Atlanta because of possible blood clots.
By Suellen Reitz
Pickens County American Legion Post 149 is first and foremost all about vets helping vets. Sometimes the help needed is more than one organization can handle. And at times like that…as it has often been said…“It takes the whole village.”
Such is the case for 56-year-old Warren Boyette, who suffered from a stroke eight years ago on Valentine’s Day that has left him totally paralyzed on the left side of his body making him fully dependent on his parents Joe and Cola Weaver.
Boyette served five years with the Georgia Army National Guard, completing his enlistment with the rank of SP4. But because of the VA requirement of a minimum of 181 continuous active duty days to qualify for veteran benefits, he is not eligible for any VA assistance.
Benefits or not, Warren is proud of his service to the country, and we at Post 149 want him and his family to know we won’t let him fall into the gray area of no help that happens to many veterans who served during a peacetime army.
Fortunately, the brain aneurism has not left Warren with pain, but his speech is somewhat slurred and the brain cells were damaged causing memory loss. Since the stroke, he has suffered numerous problems including gall bladder surgery, pneumonia, a bad bedsore and intestinal issues. Most recently, new developments have changed his status. Severe swelling in both legs below the knees has been consistent for the last few months. Doctors fear the cause may be from blood clots. Piedmont Mountainside is not equipped with the technology required to pinpoint and treat the edema. Without treatment and therapy, the condition could be life threatening.
There is a desperate need for a wheelchair-equipped van with dropped floor to get Warren to Atlanta where the needed procedures can be obtained. A pickup truck is the only vehicle owned by the Weavers, and due to their son’s size of 6’ and over 250 pounds, the elderly couple cannot manage getting him in and out of the vehicle. Up untill now, all medical needs were local. Pickens County M.A.T.S. public transportation was the solution. However, that transportation service is only available within the county.
A low-mileage Dodge Caravan with the specifications needed has been identified in Marietta for $29,000. The added expense of a drooped floor is not optional due to Warren’s size. Sitting in a wheelchair, his height is 53 inches, leaving only four inches to ceiling in this specialty van.
The van expense is something that is more than the Jasper family can manage. Joe’s military retirement as a SP5 with occasional electrician jobs done for friends does not cover the cost. Cola, whose sole job is now caring for her son, has medical needs of her own due to a serious car accident two years prior to the stroke. Her injuries forced her to quit her medical career due to back pain. She is able to move her son from bed to the arm chair in the living room with the assistance of a Hoyer lift.
Warren’s Social Security disability is just enough to cover his medical insurance, pay down his medical air lift bill and purchase his daily medical needs. And like the gray area of need with VA, the limited income is greater than that allowed to receive Medicaid.
Though some within the Post knew of the Weavers’ home life, many members were unaware of their hardship even though he has been an active member for 12 years, holding several elected positions including past Post Commander and his current involvement now as liaison for Little League Baseball and Senior Vice Commander. Joe is a quiet man and you don’t hear him say anything unless it’s important.
“We aren’t beggars,” explained Cola Weaver, Joe’s wife of 58 years. “It’s just gotten out of our hands and we are running out of steam.”
Post 149 Service Officer Bob Reitz approached Weaver when a Canton group was looking for a veteran they could help in a spring off-road trail ride fundraiser. Joe’s son was selected, but the amount raised in their first ride last year was limited and the financial need is now.
A special checking account has been opened at Community Bank to help raise the money needed quickly. Hopefully, our community can reach out and help in the purchase of this van before it is sold elsewhere. If you would like to help one of our veterans your contribution can really make a difference. Checks should be written to Warren’s Handicap Van Account # 354710 which is open now at Pickens Community Bank. Checks can be taken to Community Bank or mailed to American Legion Post 149, P.O. Box 477, Jasper, Ga. 30143. Should more funds be raised than the cost of the van, the remaining money will be placed in the Legion account for other veterans in need.
I was so touched by the love shared by the family as I learned more about the family dynamics. “Sometimes you just run out of gas,” said Cola as she playfully tasseled her son’s hair. “That’s when I take a long shower and sing and praise God as loud as I can. God has given us a sense of humor and lots of patience.”
Please help this military family with your financial gifts. Warren knows the sacrifices his parents have made. When asked to share his thoughts he said, “I feel blessed because of my mamma.”
My prayer is that our community will feel blessed for helping. Once again, please write your check to Warren’s Handicap Van account # 354710 at Community Bank. Checks should be mailed to Community Bank or to American Legion Post 149, P.O. Box 477, Jasper, Ga. 30143. Large or small, together they make the difference.