BRENDA REED - U.S. ARMY
When Brenda Reed was a young Army private stationed in Germany, she was issued combat boots made for men. Reed served from 1978-1984, when women were relatively new in the regular Army, and it was fairly common to be issued men’s gear.
Not long after, she broke her foot in four places while running on cobblestone streets in the ill-fitting boots, which eventually led to the amputation of her leg.
“Through the years that followed, I would get stress fractures in the same areas over and over and I developed osteoporosis in that foot and ankle and in May 2009, I stepped down off the bottom step of a step stool and my leg shattered a third of the way up, severing my leg in half,” recalled Reed.
After several major surgeries, Reed’s leg was amputated. However, Reed quickly learned that VA was not as prepared to help a woman veteran amputee as they should have been.
“I got my first prosthetic six weeks after the amputation and I didn’t have any problems learning to walk on it,” said Reed. “But it was getting the fit, which still isn’t good. I was under the impression I would be able to get a foot my size that looked similar and it was just the opposite.”
Reed was given a prosthetic foot designed for a male. As a solution to the poor fit, the VA opted to shave off parts of the prosthetic rather than providing her with one created for women.
“I was told [by the VA tech] I was the only woman that he had seen and he wasn’t exactly sure what to do because he had never done prosthetics for women,” Reed said. “I told him it shouldn’t be any different than doing it for a man. A fit is a fit. If it doesn’t fit, it isn’t right.”