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High school basketball star’s parents push for scratch ticket to help vets deal with brain issues

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – A chance for Hoosiers to win money, may also be the key to help hundreds of Indiana veterans.

On Tuesday, the Indiana Senate Veteran Affairs and Military committee met to discuss two scratch ticket bills. One proposal focuses on homeless veterans, and the other looks at brain issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder.

If signed into law, the ticket could generate $2 million. There is a snag however; state senators said a Hoosier Lottery contract might not allow it.

A Hoosier Lottery spokesperson said to 24-Hour News 8 the Integrated Services Agreement included provisions designed to accommodate policy maker’s decisions that impact Indiana’s gaming environment. It’s a glimmer of hope Hoosier veterans like to hear.

“Our troops deserve the best,” veteran Steven Simms said. “Indiana has some of the most super troops that I’ve been around.”

While several veterans spoke Tuesday, the most moving testimony didn’t come from someone in the military. The parents of former Indiana high school basketball star Josh Speidel addressed lawmakers nearly two years to the day of his accident.

“Josh was a 2015, oh goodness, Columbus North graduate,” Lisa Speidel said. It was in 2015, Speidel was involved in a wreck. It left him in a coma.

Dreams of playing in college seemed to end with the crash, but it didn’t. Speidel is currently in college at the University of Vermont, where he is sending his parents videos of himself playing basketball.

“His balance looks much better, so it’s just amazing,” Dave Speidel said. “It’s amazing.”

A recovery his parents attribute to a revolutionary hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT).

“If HBOT can help a 20-year-old continue to work toward his goal of one day playing college basketball,” Lisa Speidel said. “I know it can help our service men and women.”

That’s exactly what State Senator Mike Delph believes too. This is why he’s proposed a scratch ticket to get vets into the same therapy by creating a pilot program.

“What are we going to do with these individuals,” State Sen. Delph said, “We cannot just cast them out as waste of society, as a casualty of war. We have a moral obligation to do whatever we can to try to help them.”

The other ticket would target homelessness. State numbers show there are more than 600 homeless veterans across Indiana. they are two proposals state senators believe would make a big difference.

“I believe that if we can move forward with this scratch off lottery ticket we will blow this out,” State Sen. Delph said, Despite the hearing, the contract issue prevented a vote. State Sen. Delph said the governor’s office is working with Hoosier Lottery to resolve the issue.

While it’s stalled, Speidel’s parents are thankful in only two years their son’s story is making a difference.

“It’s an honor,” Dave Speidel said. “It’s an honor just to be, that we could help a little bit.”

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