The Naval Air Force veteran, named John Weigel, told the Vermont senator and a crowd of attendees at a campaign-sponsored town hall in September that he didn’t know how he would pay for compounding medical debt for the treatment of Huntington’s disease.
"I can’t. I can’t. I’m gonna kill myself," Weigel told Sanders in their first encounter.
"Hold on, John, stop it, you’re not gonna kill yourself," Sanders replied.
Nearly three months later, Weigel attended another Sanders event to report that his medical debt was now under control. He said that he was now only paying $29.50 per month.
"Because of your support, Sens. [Catherine] Cortez-Masto and Jacky Rosen got involved and straightened out my bills," Weigel told Sanders and the crowd in Gardnerville, Nevada.
He later added, "Thank you for rescuing me."
Weigel attempted to give Sanders his flight jacket, but Sanders declined to take it. Instead, Weigel ripped his flight patch off the jacket and gave it to Sanders.
"As a nation, we can disagree about a war. We can disagree about foreign policy, but when brave people like John put their lives on the line to defend our country, when they come home, they will receive the best quality health care that this country can provide them," said Sanders. "And they will not have to go deeply in debt or be harassed by bill collectors for some stupid bureaucratic reason."
Sanders, who has made health care reform his central platform, previously released a plan that, if enacted, would cancel $81 billion in medical debt for millions of Americans, reform bankruptcy rules to allow for medical debt relief and prevent medical debt from impacting credit scores.
If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741-741.