VETERANS CORNER: Grants available to retro fit homes for veterans wheelchair bound

by Gary Kennedy

I met a veteran the other day in a wheelchair and just began a conversation with him. It seems he and his wife are both veterans. I being in a chair myself began talking about some of the difficulties involved. He concurred and explained he had an old house and it was difficult to get around and do things. I told him I have the same problems but applied for V.A. grants which are supposed to help with those problems. To my surprise and amazement he wasn’t aware of these programs.

I was thrilled to be able to help him and his significant other with just some information and advice. There are several grants out there to help make improvements such as bathroom renovation and accessibility for the wheelchairs etc. also there are grants for remodeling your home if it’s not safe or navigable. There are also grants which could build you a small home. (S.A.H Grant) Specially Adapted Home can mean remodel an existing home or even build a home on land you already own. Currently the S.A.H Grant is $101,754. A local agent is Kevin Nash. He can be reached at KEVIN.NASH@VA.GOV. However, he lives in Vermont and does it all by phone.

Although this sounds like a wonderful thing that is being given to the veterans it doesn’t come without its problems. Two by fours are closing in at $9 per 8 per foot and two by six are nearing $19. In any case most well known contractors won’t work with less than one-third down, which is only fair in my opinion. You can’t honestly expect professionals to supply materials and labor without some help from the customer. That is a normal amount required if you are having a home built without V.A. assistance. The VA Grant doesn’t give that. This grant is only given once, so its use must be monitored and protected.

One other grant should be mentioned is the “CAREGIVER GRANT” which is available in levels. The first level is loss of use of legs or an arm and a leg, or just not being able to do certain things on your own. An example would be you need help washing, bathing, dressing, tying your shoes, cooking, feeding, medication delivery and safety. I believe the current stipend that is given is approximately $1,681. This can be paid to your wife or significant other. It is a tax free amount for delivering care.

The second level is for one who is wheelchair bound and unable to do other necessary functions of everyday living. I believe the stipend for this level is around $2,600. There are more situations which you should or could apply for. Contact Ms.Tammy Holman at at the Veterans Administration at Togus. Her telephone number is 207-623-8411 extn. 5906 or 7987. She can send you a flyer with all the qualifications.

All except the (S.A.H. Grant) are easy to apply for and obtain. If you qualify for the S.A.H. Grant you should have no problem with the remodel or constructions if you are prepared to contribute one third of the needed money. The way I understand it is this upfront money will be refunded to you along the way. If you don’t have it, I haven’t been able to find an option. However, I will check with the Secretary of V.A. for an answer for you. Also if you do receive a loan at the bank, how and when do you get your money back. Make sure you receive an answer. These people are still working at home and refuse to come to you. I have tried. Perhaps with help from my group we can get answers or possible changes.

I probably should mention the Adaptive Equipment Grant which allows the veteran to apply for addendums to his/her vehicle to aid in his being able to transfer into his vehicle which may have been given by the VA. I was given a vehicle and told I could receive a wheelchair lift and other accessories. I called the administrator of the adaption equipment, Evangeline Boyle, who is located at Boston VA Healthcare system, 940 Belmont Street Brockton, MA 02301, telephone number, 508-583-4500. And she told me I would have to drive to Boston for a driving test. I had to forgo this free needed equipment as I don’t drive to Boston because of the distance and the other problems with that long a drive, in that congested area.

The VA gave me a grant for a remodel or new house as well as money for a new vehicle yet they wouldn’t send someone to our VA facility to do what is needed in my case and the case of others. Also, why would I have to take a driver test for a wheelchair lift? I will not allow veterans to be abused not even myself. This process/procedure is not acceptable. I will address this when I contact the National Director. Military abuse has become Elder Abuse.

So all this information being given should lead you to placing the appropriate phone call or email. I know for many of you the initial down payment can be a very big problem. I have been waiting for two years to receive what they say I qualify for. If you qualify, why is it so difficult to receive? That would be a good question unless the government really doesn’t want you to seek this sort of relief. Frank Siller who leads the Tunnel to Towers Foundation in honor of his brother’s death, Stephen, during 9-11, gives his money from the heart. You don’t need to contribute if you’re the recipient. The vets he serves don’t have to pay upfront money also. The difference is there is no politics involved.

I hope I have been of some help. God bless America and also to those in the Ukraine that are having a taste of hell. Some of our great veterans are on their way there now to help. I wish I were one. May God bless and keep them safe. My email is


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