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October 03, 2012 10:01 PM

Injured Soldier Fights Financial Pain

Larchwood, IA

Medical bills are piling up for a South Dakota National Guard soldier who was seriously injured earlier this year.  But his injuries aren't from the war in Afghanistan.

The massive scars on Levi Sandal's leg don't even begin to tell the story and pain Sandal's been put through the last six months.

"All I remember is that SUV pulling out in front of me and summersault after summersault down the street," Sandal said.

Sandal was severely injured in a motorcycle accident on March 30 of this year and since then has had five surgeries, which included a rod in his femur, plates, screws and bone grafts in his left leg. But that's not what hurts the most.

"Financial pain; it really puts a strain on my relationship with the wife," Sandal said.

Sandal has also incurred hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills. 

"I've been out of work for six months now, running broke trying to pay bills," Sandal said.

Because of his injuries, Sandal, who has been with the Guard for five and a half years, won't be able to re-enlist next January. 

"I love being in the military and take that away, it's going to hurt a lot," Sandal said.

That's why the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association wants to help. It's hosting a poker run for Sandal this weekend to help raise money to pay for some of his medical bills.

"He's a combat vet.  We advertise, 'Vets helping vets.'  I've known him for quite a few years, ever since we both joined the guards," Kyle Overby said. "We all ride motorcycles; it's what we do.  It's good for the community and they wanted to help.  They asked and we are going to give it to them."

A small gesture to help a veteran who served his country proudly, but now finds himself fighting a new kind of battle.

"I thought to myself right after the accident, laying in the street, I looked down at my leg and go, 'My career in the military is over,'" Sandal said.

The Poker Run is this Saturday. Registration starts at 11 a.m. at the Red Rock east of Sioux Falls. There's also been a fund set up where you can donate at any Sioux Falls Home Federal Bank.

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