America Supports You: Group Helps Wounded Vets Secure Adaptive Housing
By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 23, 2008 Wounded veterans have a new source to turn to when looking for housing to meet their individual challenges after the expansion of a successful pilot program in Texas.
“Helping a Hero” has been working for the past year to provide adaptive homes to wounded veterans of the war on terrorism, said Meredith Iler, chairman of the organization’s Wounded Hero Home Program.
“Our principal activity is to provide specially adapted homes for qualifying servicemembers as well as engaging the community to provide services and resources for our wounded heroes and their families,” she said. “We have awarded 13 homes and have plans to award another 100 homes in the next 12 months.”
All the houses the group provides are part of planned communities, she said. The developers donate a lot, and one of the builders in the community matches the amount of the donated land in construction costs.
The homes range from $200,000 to $300,000 in value, with an average of $250,000. Recipients of the homes are required to sign a contract prohibiting them from borrowing against the equity in the house for 10 years, however. That policy is non-negotiable; even if the loan were for a worthy cause like starting a business, it’s too risky, Iler explained. If the business were to fail, the veteran and his or her family could lose the home.
“We’re trying to establish stability in their lives,” Iler said.
To that end, Helping a Hero doesn’t just get veterans into homes and wish them well. The group also offers ongoing workshops to help them reintegrate into the community and works to connect them with community service organizations such as the Rotary Club.
These connections not only provide support and a sense of community, but also could lead to employment, Iler said.
Helping a Hero is a new supporter of America Supports You, a Defense Department program connecting citizens and companies with servicemembers and their families serving at home and abroad. The group’s hope is that this affiliation will help spread the word to qualified veterans, Iler said.
“Our goal is to provide a home to every single severely wounded hero in the next 10 years,” she added.
Full details on how to apply for an adaptive home through Helping a Hero are available on the organization’s Web site.