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Navy veteran never saw combat but faces biggest fight for his life

Situation hits close to home for Easterseals veteran
roy fulps with son 2.jpg
Posted at 8:53 PM, Jun 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-30 10:57:28-04

Navy veteran Roy Fulps is hundreds of miles away from home right now. He's not serving his country in some far-off war; instead, he's in a fight to save his life.

"It actually started back in probably 2004, 2005 era," he said.

Fulps lives with an abdominal aortic aneurysm that has, over time, enlarged to the point of critical need.

"It's reaching bursting stage, so that's why they wanted to do this operation, see if they can slow that down," Fulps said.

roy fulps 4.jpg
Roy Fulps during his service in the U.S. Navy 1959-1962.

The surgery is approved by his doctors in Cincinnati and his veteran benefits will also cover the cost of the surgery and time in the hospital. The problem is no one in Cincinnati can do the surgery.

"It hasn't been authorized in this area," said Sherri Hensley, Fulps' step-daughter. "So the only doctor that has the stent is the one who designed it, and he's in Sioux Falls, South Dakota."

The problem for Fulps and his family is how to get to South Dakota. He is 80 years old and the family lives on limited means.

"The VA travel coordinator contacted us directly and says, 'I have a veteran that the VA can't provide travel services for,'" said Scott Robinson, the director of Military and Veteran Services for Easterseals of Greater Cincinnati.

"For us at Easterseals, the request was, 'Can we help with transportation?' And that's where we stepped in and said we will buy those tickets on the spot (to) get you to the surgery," Robinson said.

For Robinson, this mission goes beyond getting Fulps to South Dakota for surgery.

"My father died from this very same thing. My father had an abdominal aneurysm and it ruptured while he and I were standing talking. He died in my arms," he recalls.

Getting Fulps a plane ticket to Sioux Falls was the easy part. His son is also on the trip, acting as his dad's medical attendant. On top of that, Fulps is required to stay in Sioux Falls for 30 days post-surgery for evaluation and testing.

The cost could reach nearly $7,500 between lodging, meals and airline tickets to get both of them back to Crittenden.

"We're working with connections in South Dakota to see if there is a similar organization like ourselves to help offset the funds. We know the family is facing a financial burden to get through this," Robinson said.

Easterseals of Greater Cincinnati has set up a No Vet Left Behind page with more information on Roy Fulps' situation where you can contribute directly to help.

If you have a veteran story to tell in your community, email homefront@wcpo.com. You also can join the Homefront Facebook group, follow Craig McKee on Facebook and find more Homefront stories here.

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