Empowering Virginians with Disabilities through Centers for Independent Living
November 2021 | Issue 9
Helping Veterans to Remain in their Homes
As this month we recognize Veterans Day, this issue features stories of CILs' impact supporting veterans with service-connected and other disabilities who want to maintain and increase independence in their homes and communities.

Through Virginia Housing grant programs and advocacy with Veterans Affairs, CILs can be critical lifelines to roll-in showers, ramps and other home accessibility modifications. The results? More veterans with disabilities remaining in their homes.
CIL Success Stories
Veteran's service earns multiple grants
Mason, a 78-year-old veteran, moved in with his fiancé, Daisy, in her Montgomery County home and wished to improve the home’s accessibility so he can age in place.

Mason served in Vietnam and developed multiple disabilities directly connected to his military service and exposure to Agent Orange, including chronic kidney failure and low vision. Mason also has daily living challenges from diabetes and neuropathy, uses both a cane and walker and is at high-risk for falls.

Knowing his stability was diminishing quickly, his Veterans Affairs (VA) doctor referred him to New River Valley Disability Resource Center (NRV DRC) in Radford to seek funding for and installing a roll-in shower.

Jocelyn Pruitt, Independent Living Coordinator at NRV DRC, worked with Mason over the next five months – coordinating multiple grants offered to veterans and contractors to install the shower. He was eligible for the Granting Freedom grant from Virginia Housing and Home Improvement and Structural Alterations (HISA) grant through the VA.

Once Mason was approved for both grants, EZ Rampz completed Mason’s roll-in shower with tiling in 10 days at an estimated $11,832. He shared that the timing was perfect, because the following week he went in for surgery with 6 to 8 weeks of recovery. He took comfort in the fact that his new shower would make his life easier as he could safely recover and continue to live in his own home.

Mason said calling the NRV DRC has made all the difference in the world to him, and it was such a gift to have Jocelyn’s assistance through the entire process.
dRC helps Spotsy veteran get modified shower

Elwood Mason, from Spotsylvania, is a 65-year-old retired Army veteran. He served eight and a half years as an automotive mechanic with the Army and also with Special Forces.

Work and time have taken their toll. Mason had both hips replaced and all 10 toes have been broken, making it hard for him to stand. He needed a larger, accessible shower to meet his needs and help maintain his independence. The Granting Freedom home remodification program helped Mason to put a larger shower in his bathroom.

Tennie Gratz, a staff member of the disAbility Resource Center in Fredericksburg, coordinated and oversaw the bathroom modification. Mason said “Tennie was the best with explaining and giving great direction on the process. Getting in and out of the shower has been a Godsend.”
AIC advocates for older veteran with home modification grant

Appalachian Independence Center (AIC) in Abingdon has been working successfully with older veterans to ensure that their homes are accessible. For example, AIC assisted a 93-year-old veteran assess the accessibility of his home, successfully apply for Virginia Housing’s home modification grant program and connect with a general contractor. This allowed him to continue to live safely in his own home and avoid moving into a nursing home.

Similarly, AIC provided peer counseling to another veteran and helped him navigate the local Veterans Benefits Administration and secure funding for a ramp. He is now able to safely enter and exit his home.
Partner Spotlight
Granting Freedom: Virginia's Military Home Modification Program

Many CILs across Virginia partner with Virginia Housing to support veterans through Granting Freedom, a grant program for home modifications for disabled veterans and service members who sustained a line-of-duty injury resulting in a service-connected disability. A grant of up to $8,000 per residence or rental unit is available for Virginia veterans who meet these criteria.
Grant funds can be used to widen doorways and add ramps to make a home wheelchair accessible, to install grab bars in a bathroom or to make other modifications recommended by the VA that help eligible recipients feel more at home.