A life-changing machine has made a big impact on a San Angelo Veteran’s life: the purchase of a trackchair, an all-terrain power chair designed to be used in rugged terrains. With help through West Texas VA Health Care System, Bobby Boehm can do several outdoor activities he wasn’t able to do before.

Boehm served from 1985 to 1995 in the U.S. Marine Corps. He was a tow gunner and instructor for the School of Infantry.

During his time in service, Boehm developed a condition called complex regional pain syndrome. The syndrome was caused by several accidents and injuries. He was in three separate helicopter crashes and also fell from a 150-foot cliff in the middle of the night.

“When I fell off that cliff, my pack and radio saved my life,” said Boehm. “The good lord was by my side and I am thankful I lived to tell my story.”

Thankful for VA doctors and care

Out of the Marine Corps in 1995, he sought care at VA. “I am truly thankful for my doctors and the care provided from West Texas VA,” said Boehm.

“Able to continue living independent life with zero limitations.”

VA provided him with a motorized wheelchair and vehicle adaptations, but Boehm felt he was still unable to do the things he loved, like hunting and fishing.

“I watch a lot of videos online and I came across the trackchair,” Boehm said. “I thought there was no way this could happen to me. But my wife encouraged me to ask, so I did.”

Boehm reached out to Glennis Thompson, a recreational therapist with West Texas VA. He voiced his interest about getting a trackchair, and Thompson was able to get the ball rolling.

Assessments and evaluations preceded chair approval

After several patient assessments and evaluations, Boehm was granted the trackchair. But before the chair was purchased, Boehm went through vigorous and extensive trainings with the company on how to use the equipment. He learned how to climb over rocks, drive up hills, roll through sand and mud, and most importantly, be safe while operating the all-terrain chair.

“Being a part of this process was very rewarding,” said Thompson. “Sometimes disabled Veterans have the mentality that their lives have to stop. Boehm is able to continue living his very independent life with zero limitations.”

Humbled that someone believed in me

“It’s an honor to have received a chair like this,” said Boehm. “I am humbled that someone believed in me enough to help me be able to get back out in the fields and fishing at the lakes.”

The all-terrain chair paves the way to a more vibrant life that restores the freedom to be able to hunt and fish again. Boehm is accustomed to an active life. He now gets to enjoy these moments and make memories with his family and friends.

“This chair allows Bobby to access the outdoors and take part in activities that mean so much to him.” said Thompson. “It just shows how committed we are to our Veterans.”

West Texas VA proudly serves Veterans in 33 counties across 55,000 square miles of rural geography in West Texas and Eastern New Mexico. More than 56,000 Veterans reside in the area, of which approximately 17,000 receive care here. On average, the health care system supports more than 170,000 outpatient appointments annually.

By Kelli Stolle is a communication specialist and Will Hatton is the chief of Communication and Community Engagement, both at the West Texas VA

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Published on May. 8, 2022

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