A disabled Army veteran is hoping the efforts of his friend and students at Dawson County Middle School will result in a much needed new prosthetic leg.
Andrew Sully Sullens, 32, of Dahlonega, while deployed in Afghanistan in 2009 was one of four members of the Georgia National Guard who was critically injured when their Humvee ran over an explosive device that left him with a broken pelvis, broken leg and severe burns. He suffered massive blood loss and was placed on a ventilator for lung complications after surgery. The damage to his leg was so severe, Sullens was unable to walk. Amputation was his only option.
"I need a new one because I 'shrunk out of' this one," Sully said. "Overtime, there is pressure on the residual limb, it creates wounds and it can become painful to wear the prosthetic."
After seeing Sully's multiple, unsuccessful attempts at contacting the Veterans Administration for help on social media, his longtime friend Dawson County Middle School Language Arts Teacher, Chris Doerrer decided something had to be done to help.
Doerrer, also a medically retired vet, turned the situation into a writing assignment for his students using state standards.
"I wanted to show my students that learning to write well is not just about writing for a standardized test," the 8th English/Language Arts teacher said. "It's about writing and producing results in the real world."
Friday afternoon Doerrer's students wrote letters to U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., chair of the Senate committee on Veterans' Affairs about the plight of Sullens, who, in 2010, retired from the Army. The young writers incorporated the answer, cite, explain (ACE) strategy used to help students with the Georgia Milestones testing.
Sullens said the VA in Atlanta does not answer its phones.
"I've called countless times, and it would rollover to voicemail," Sully said, who is a modern language major at the University of North Georgia. "The mailbox would be full. Now, it just rings endlessly."
Sully realizes he is not alone in this battle.
"To the VA, I'm just another face," he said. "I can safely say that I am speaking for thousands of others countless others."
Sen. Isaksons office was contacted for comment.
Amanda Maddox, press secretary for the senator said in a phone call on Wednesday that a caseworker would be in touch with Sullens. Separately, in a recent press release regarding Isakson's Sept. 4 visit to Fort Gordon, it was stated the senator "has made it a priority in Congress to ensure our nations veterans are given the care and support they deserve once they have returned home from the battlefield."
At press time, Sullens had heard from a rep. from Isaksons offi ce, Sen. Steve Gooch and Rep. Kevin Tanner.