NEW BERLIN – The VA hospital in Syracuse told a local Vietnam Air Force veteran to leave his walking stick at home last week. The Syracuse VA Medical Center stated the walking stick, a life-sized wooden carving of an M-16, could cause patients at the facility unnecessary anxiety.
New Berlin resident Steve Simons said hospital security called him on April 14 following a medical visit and told him his gun-shaped walking cane was being permanently banned.
Simons carved and stained the wooden M16 cane himself and intentionally designed it to appear similar to the actual weapon, but adds: “It looks like it’s made of wood.”
Simons crafted the M16-shaped walking stick in February and said he brought it to the hospital on at least a dozen occasions.
“I’ve taken it everywhere I go – the hospital, the bank, the store, wherever. I’ve had a lot of people, vets, come up to me. It’s a great conversation starter. I usually end up giving people one of my cards and I’ve never had a security official approach me about it before they called me last week,” he said.
Gordon Sclar, public affairs officer at the Syracuse Medical Center, said the hospital did not comment on specific issues relating to patients, but issued this statement: