Veteran able to stand tall again

Published: Mar. 24, 2017 at 5:53 PM EDT
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After several years, a Florence veteran, paralyzed from the waist down, is able to stand again today.

It was all made possible with the help of the VA Medical Center in Iron Mountain and a wheelchair manufacturer in Saginaw.

Tom Tuchalski, a paraplegic U.S. Coast Guard veteran, has been confined to wheelchair for almost seven years. When he began experiencing health issues directly related to his impairment and inability to move, Tom turned to the VA for help.

"Now he had a need, and his best idea was to come up with some exercise equipment that helps move his knees,” Chief of Physical Therapy Josh Early said. “So, knowing that he was still very functional in his home with his family and in the community, it seemed that we were able to do so much more than just supply him with a piece of exercise equipment."

The VA contacted The Standing Company, a manufacturer specializing in standing wheelchairs. Tuchalski was fitted for his very own custom standing chair, free of charge, and after years of being forced to sit at a level half his height, Tom now stands tall at six foot three.

"I mean, it feels great! I mean, this is…you know, it's been almost seven years since I've had this happen, and it just feels phenomenal,” Tuchalski said. “I mean, it's just…I haven't stopped smiling since I got the chair, and it's something that most people take for granted, you know, but when you can't do it, you know, it's…"

For this stay-at-home father and husband, the health benefits and newfound sense of independence are more than he ever thought were possible.

"Just talking to people, you know, it's nice to be up again at a tall level,” Tuchalski said. “And, it was great seeing my daughter; the way that she reacted the first time that she had ever seen me stand; she's never seen me stand since she was born, so…it's a big morale booster."

Tuchalski is enjoying the ability to do all of the small things we often take for granted that require standing. For more information on the Standing Company and their products, visit