A U.S. veteran who claims to be paralyzed and was given a free wheelchair-accessible home after suffering an IED attack in Afghanistan is under fire after he was filmed walking around his Texas home.
The stunning footage showing Army specialist Justin Perez-Gorda unloading lumber in his garage last month came as his wife reportedly argued that the nonprofit behind their home knew for years that he could walk.
Jose Perez-Gorda, speaking to Kens5 News in San Antonio, claimed that just months after her husband was injured in the Jan. 5 2011 explosion he regained his ability to walk.
That remarkable recovery however appears to contrast prior interviews the couple gave to local reporters and to the non-profit Homes for Our Troops which helped secure the Dripping Springs home for them in late 2013.
“He has permanent loss of both lower extremities,” his wife told Homes for Our Troops in a 2012 video interview. “He’s paralyzed from the belly button down.”
In an April 2012 interview with KENS5, the Army veteran was also filmed sitting in a wheelchair while saying: “I’m paralyzed.”
When Jose Perez-Gorda was reportedly asked why they didn’t reveal his miraculous recovery before or at the time of the home’s gifting, the mother of two clammed up.
Kens5 News reports that last month’s curious sighting — which showed Perez-Gorda telling an inquiring reporter to get off his property — may not have been the first.
Shortly after the couple moved into the home, neighbors claim they saw the veteran walking around his property.
When the couple was approached about his apparent recovery, they were described as becoming angry and withdrawn. Those neighbors eventually reported his suspicious behavior to the non-profit.
“Obviously there is something out there we missed. Homes for Our Troops continues to assess the situation and is weighing our options,” the non-profit’s Executive Director Bill Ivey told the station in an interview last month.
The option of taking away the family’s home, he said, would be a “last resort.”
Ivey said that after suspicions arose about his handicaps his organization repeatedly tried to contact them last year but without success.
He said an employee even drove from Alabama to Texas to speak with them at the property but Perez-Gorda refused to come out. The employee instead spoke with his wife for about 45 minutes before leaving without any new information.