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Texas Hill Country Veteran Spurs Passing of Veterans Transplant Coverage Act

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Falling suddenly and violently ill while training in South Korea, Charles Nelson, a former Army Specialist, was diagnosed with kidney disease following a fight with a case of strep throat that was untreated. Immediately, Charles and his wife, Tamara, pursued the proper lines of support through the Veteran Affairs Choice Program. It allows veterans living over 40-miles from a VA hospital to obtain care at a facility of their choice, participating in said program. The Nelsons live in Leander in the Texas Hill Country. Their son Coty Nelson was going to be his donor, but the family was denied coverage at the service care provider of Charles’ choice because Coty wasn’t a veteran.

“…I just knew that it was wrong,” Tamara explained to hillcountrynews.com. “No matter which way you looked at it, anybody could look at it. It was just wrong.” Although the VA promised to assist Charles by covering a flight for him to one of two participating VA hospitals in either Nashville, Tennessee or Portland, Oregon, his condition wouldn’t allow it. It was life-threatening for Charles to board a plane. As his health declined, his wife tried every option available to her. She went up the chain from the media to Congress, to the Senate, and finally, the president, in an effort to bring focus to her husband’s story. Over the course of the nine months that this process went on, their community pitched in to help the Nelsons pay off the deductibles.

Texas Hill Country Veteran Spurs Passing of Veterans Transplant Coverage Act

Photo: Facebook/Tamara Nelson

The Nelsons had help from the hospital, Medicare, donations, and an anonymous donor who paid off the remaining balance. Now Charles is just glad the changes have been signed into law and that veterans will hopefully be able to make good use of those changes. Aside from the difficulties of his illness, Charles also feared retaliation through the Veterans Administration itself. “He was sincerely afraid of backlash from the VA. Our soldiers are taught not to question things. They’re taught to follow orders… I was told after this that I didn’t have to fight anymore and, that’s right, I don’t have to, but there’s others that are still facing the same problems. Why should anyone else have this issue?… I’ll do anything I can to see this through and make something change,” Tamara explained to hillcountrynews.com.

Texas Hill Country Veteran Spurs Passing of Veterans Transplant Coverage Act
Photo: Facebook/Tamara Nelson

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