Local group surprises struggling NM Veteran

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - A New Mexico veteran whose botched surgery at Albuquerque’s VA Medical Center left him with physical and financial problems, got quite the surprise Monday afternoon.

A local bar and charity teamed up to give the Marine Corps veteran a gift he never saw coming.

News 13 shared Sean Hudson’s story earlier this month.

“I want my life back,” Hudson said in an interview with News 13.

Hudson served in Iraq, and returned to New Mexico with a shoulder injury. But a surgery to fix it made things worse. Hudson said doctors at the local VA left a screw and silicon disc in his body and his pain worsened. He’s been unable to work, and his back-and-forth with the VA turned his life upside down.

The manager at the Library Bar and Grill in Albuquerque saw his story.

“You see a man that needs help, and he’s only asking help from his government who he served, and they let him down,” said Kikko, Manager of the Library Bar & Grill.

So, the bar paired up with local charity group, the New Mexico Chivers, and held a benefit party for Hudson on Friday night. The $10 cover charge, a silent auction of items donated from local radio stations and businesses, plus customer and staff donations, were all for Hudson.

But Hudson had no idea anyone was doing this until Monday. He met his attorneys at the Library bar for lunch, under the impression they needed to discuss his case.

As a News 13 camera and large group greeted Hudson, the bar manager explained, “We saw your story. We wanted to honor you. We saw that you’re going through some tough times.”

The group presented Hudson the earnings from Friday’s benefit, a check for more than $2,000.

“You served our country so now it’s our time to serve you,” Kikko told Hudson.

“Thank you,” Hudson replied, nearly speechless.

Kikko also presented Hudson with an American flag, which was flown over Albuquerque this weekend in his honor.

Monday’s surprise was a success.

“I’m blown away, this is, I never expected anything like this,” Hudson said.

The veteran leaves town Tuesday for a surgery consultation in Boston.

“We made progress with his VA disability claim, and I attribute that to the fact that the community stepped up and there was some exposure about what was happening,” said David Standridge, Hudson’s Attorney.

The donations he received Monday will help pay his bills, Hudson said.

“It’s a beautiful thing to help somebody that’s in need,” said Kikko. “Especially a veteran who served our country.”

The whole event, and out-pour of support from total strangers, also helped lift Hudson’s spirits.

“It really feels special to know that people care,” Hudson said.

Hudson said he’s still not sure when he’ll have surgery to remove the screw, but he’s hopeful it will be soon after his consultation in Boston.

The problems keep piling up for the VA in Albuquerque. A Bernalillo County man is suing the government for $3 million, claiming the VA botched his 2009 heart surgery, leaving him with dementia.

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