Office of congressman assists wounded veteran in receiving high-tech leg braces

Former Lieutenant Eric Deets is getting a new lease on life
WAFF 48's Savannah Sapp reporting
Published: Nov. 3, 2023 at 7:59 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Eric Deets is a highly decorated veteran with over two decades of military experience.

He shares the story of how his battle scars nearly confined him to a wheelchair.

”They got me with an RPG, it flipped me over backwards and landed me in a bush and I was out cold,” Deets says.

Deets recalls the moment he was wounded during battle in Vietnam after being drafted.

In October of 1968, Deets’ Battalion became surrounded by enemy fire near Dau Tieng, a battle so intense, many presumed he was killed, until he returned to headquarters ten days later.

“The first sergeant looked up and he said ‘LT, what the hell are you doing alive?’,” says Deets.

Deets would go on to serve 23 more years before retiring from the army.

Shortly after his retirement, the Purple Heart recipient began having pain in his legs, and difficulty standing. A diagnosis from a neurologist determined Deets’ wounds were deeper than he thought.

“The disease is called demyelinating peripheral neuropathy. I started using a cane, and then I went from a cane to a walker, and I was falling pretty much every other day or so,” he says.

Deets says the disease could have confined him to a wheelchair. Then, a doctor suggested C-braces, a pair of prosthetics equipped with a microcomputer which will learn Deets gate and prevent him from falling or losing balance.

The price tag? $75,000 for one pair. Deets says the VA wouldn’t pay for it. That’s when he reached out to Congressman Dale Strong.

“Last Friday, I got the call, that said ‘hey, we have it. It’s a done deed’. I was a happy camper, I mean really happy,” he says.

Deets had his last fitting for the C-braces Friday with Alabama Orthotics and Prosthetics. The mockup will be sent off for adjustments and in the coming weeks, Deets will learn to walk with brand new motorized braces.

Deets say he looks forward to living again.

“The IRS thinks I’m gonna live another 22 years, and I want those 22 years to be helpful. I want to get those braces on. I wanna live a little bit longer,” Deets says.

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