Disabled Veteran Ricky Seeks Grant Money To Make Home Wheelchair Accessible
by Ricky Smith
(Wilmer, Alabama, USA)
Hello, my name is Ricky W. Smith Sr. I am a 57-year-old disabled veteran and I want a chance to tell you my story.
I want to tell you about myself not for pity, sympathy or greed but out of pure necessity to make my home and my life more accessible due to my disability.
I was discharged with a 40% disability due to a broken bone in my foot that had to be removed, a splenectomy and a total nasal/face plastic surgery reconstruction.
The army doctors told me I would be handicapped with a lift strength of 10 pounds. I beat that and proved I could lift and walk. I had every intention of re-enlisting with the given limitations.
I had letters from 4-star generals, colonels, senators and congressmen, all wanting to give me the opportunity to re-enlist. Unfortunately I could not pass the physical training test because of my foot.
I had two kids and a wife to support so I joined civilian life and held a few great jobs for many years.
I had a few health problems such as two heart attacks, which gave way to a quadruple bypass surgery. This slowed me down a bit and the doctor said I could not lift over 10 pounds.
I had two kids in college and tuition bills to help pay. I wanted to ensure they got a good education so they would not have to work so hard. I had no choice but to get passed the heart attacks and keep working.
Again, I recovered quickly and resumed normal activity, which included lifting 50 to 60 pounds several times a day.
In 2003 I fell in a 50-foot ditch with a riding mower on top of me, which broke five bones in my back and gave me a head contusion. The doctor at the Alabama Orthopedic Group said there was no way I was going to be able to work again.
Within two weeks I was on my feet again and within four weeks back to work. I had trouble lifting and standing but I got the job done. I continued to work for 10 more years.
In 2009 my wife was in a traffic accident that took her life. I felt lost without her and my life as I knew it was over.
I have been diagnosed with high blood pressure and high cholesterol for which I take four medications.
I also have sleep apnea, which means I have very limited driving ability and I have to sleep under a CPAP machine every night.
I have had my spleen removed. My face including the nasal cavity has been surgically reconstructed. I've had a bone removed from my foot. Five discs on my spine have been broken. I have degenerative joint disease in my back and shoulder, and I have left eye optical problems.
I take an anti-inflammatory medication but I try to avoid any other types of pain medications.
I am currently trying to receive civilian Social Security Disability, which is good and bad in a way. The situation is good because my children are out of college. My daughter and her husband live with me, so they are able to help me when I need help with physical activities.
The situation is bad because I have beaten the odds so many times that it has done an extreme amount of damage to my back and shoulder. It seems to have made it harder to prove that I need civilian Social Security since I have continued to work when I probably should have stopped so many years ago.
Currently I am only receiving my disabled VA benefit, which is $571 per month and food stamps in the amount of $114.
My daughter and her husband live with me. This does help but I would rather not depend on them at all for my bills and meals.
In 2012 I was re-evaluated by VA doctors and my disability rating was increased from 40 percent to 50 percent.
I have been working to get civilian Social Security Disability since December 2013. I have gone through the process of applying, being denied, appealing, obtaining a lawyer and waiting for a hearing date.
I was blessed to have enough money in savings to help cover some of my cost until I get can get Social Security but unfortunate circumstances and the length of time it is taking to get a hearing have drained my savings and the 401k I had.
I am looking for help on programs and grants for disabled veterans so I can improve my home to make it more accessible before I get to the point where I have to be in a wheelchair.
I would like to make improvements on my home such a smother driveway, a more accessible kitchen, bathrooms and replace a much-needed roof.
I also need information on grants to help subsidize my income until I have my social security hearing and am awarded benefits.