Diabetes Disabled Army Reserve Vet Seeks Self Employment Disability Grant
by Gary Cole
(Hillsdale, Michigan, USA)
My name is Gary Cole and I am a 63-year-old white male. I have been married for 37 years to my wife Rebecca.
We have three children: Kelly and her husband Todd and children Tylor and Hanna; Michael and his wife Anita and their daughter Emily; and Tiffany and her husband Steven.
I served six years in the Army Reserves from 1969 to 1975.
From the time I was 17 and for the next 25 years I owned and operated a family owned dairy farm operation with my father.
Through some unfortunate circumstances it was necessary for us to discontinue the dairy farm in 1992 and for the next 13 years, I worked on various dairy and crop farms and spent two years of that time working in the manufacturing field.
I have not worked since 2005.
At approximately age 30, I was diagnosed with diabetes. Over the years, with the progression of this disease, I have experienced some of the complications of diabetes, such as peripheral vascular disease and osteomyelitis.
In 1997, osteomyelitis in my left foot resulted in a partial foot amputation. In the spring of 2005, I developed a non-healing ulcer on the bottom of this left foot, which resulted in surgery to remove a large portion of tissue and some bone.
This resulted in many weeks off work and ultimately the loss of my job at that time.
Then in December of 2007 I fell on ice and broke my right ankle. I had surgery where a metal plate was placed on the anklebone to strengthen it and encourage healing.
This surgery resulted in osteomyelitis as well and a few months later the bone broke again and shattered. I then had a below-the-knee amputation of this right leg.
I have a prosthesis that allows me to walk and perform most normal activities without restrictions.
Although I am currently on SSI, I am capable to work if given the right circumstances or opportunity.
We are not experiencing any real specific financial hardships at this time. However, my wife works at a job that does not provide health coverage, therefore, we have to pay for our own health insurance.
I am on Social Security Disability but receive only the minimum amount and that along with my wife's income from her job makes it difficult to meet day-to-day needs sometimes and cover all of our monthly obligations.
There is no additional money to invest in starting any type of small home-based business.
Wanting to work and not being able to find a job due to how some employers consider disabled individuals has also caused some emotional hardships in the forms of depression and low self-esteem.
In the last four to five years, I have sought employment through filling out applications at various business establishments, both agricultural related and commercial establishments.
In addition, I have worked with the Michigan Rehabilitation Office and Key Opportunities, which is a local operation that hires individuals with disabilities. I've since discovered though that they hire mostly emotionally handicapped individuals.
I have already applied for and have been granted Social Security Disability Income.
As to grants, I have contacted The Center for Independent Living, Veterans Administration, AgAbilities, Hillsdale Chamber of Commerce, Ford Foundation, John Deere Co., Case IH, Michigan State University (MSU) Extension, several Internet sites offering grant help, as well as some State Senators and Representatives and our past and present Governors.
We have occasionally been given financial help from caring family members, friends and our church family, although we have not actively sought help in this way.
My desire is to obtain financial assistance by means of a grant or financial gift to be able to start a business.
In the past we have sought financial assistance through the establishments previously listed to start a dairy operation for the purpose of employing other individuals with various disabilities.
Through these contacts, I was told many times that there was little or no grant money available for agriculture-related applications.
But I still feel that being self-employed is the best option for me at my age and with a disability. As a result I am seeking financial support and/or advice as to how best to accomplish the goal of starting a home based business.
I am looking for assistance in financing a small machining and repair business. With my many years of farming where I did most of my own equipment repairs and through a few years in a machine shop, I have learned the skills of small machine operation and repairs.
I am skilled in operating welding equipment and machining tools. In talking with friends and local farmers I have learned that there is a need for this type of service where they can come and get small repairs.
I would use any grant money obtained to purchase a milling machine, a drill bit sharpener, a wire welder and an air compressor.
My hope is that this business would flourish to the point of needing extra help and providing the opportunity to hire other individuals with disabilities who are capable of working and just need a second chance.