12 OYS: Veteran gets wheelchair van after emotional letter to VA secretary

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News 12 at 6 o'clock / August 20, 2014

Veteran Dorris Blalock (WRDW-TV)

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. (WRDW) -- It has been a difficult journey for Dorris Blalock.

"Rough. It's been hectic, but finally I'm there," Blalock said.

With the exception of a few ambulance rides, he has been a prisoner in his own home since 2012, thanks to red tape at the VA. Now, Blalock said he is a free man.

"I can go places. I can go get me an ice cream now," Blalock said.

He now has a handicap-equipped van. For more than a year Blalock said he was given the run-around by the Veterans' Administration. All someone needed to do was sign off on his claim that covered part of the cost of the van, but more importantly the wheelchair ramp that is now attached

"Every time you call, you get the same thing. We're working on it. It's in progress," Blalock said last month.

In June, Blalock reached out to 12 On Your Side requesting that we personally deliver a letter to the acting secretary at the time. Sloan Gibson was in town visiting Augusta's VA. We handed the letter to Gibson.

"Somebody will be in touch with him before the sun sets today" Gibson said in June.

Within hours the VA processed Blalock's backlogged claim, and finally keeping its promise to the Vietnam veteran. We asked Blalock what he thought was going to happen with that letter at the time. "I thought he'd throw it away. I really did," Blalock said.

He was also able to keep a promise to his wife who he said fought tirelessly to get him help. The couple spent the weekend at Tybee Island in Georgia. "I'm able to sit right up front now. Right along side my wife," Blalock said.

While he is appreciative to get what he said was long overdue, he hopes the same for his fellow service men and women. "I hope other people can get what they're entitled to. I hope this makes a milestone for the VA and veterans," Blalock said.

While Tybee Island was his first getaway in more than a year, Blalock said this Friday will be a date with his wife. He is taking her to California Dreaming.

Blalock waited more than a year for one signature, and he could still be waiting had it not been for timing. News 12 was already investigating all this when the acting VA secretary came to Augusta, so we were able to take this all the way to the top.

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