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Accident Disabled Coast Guard Veteran Seeks Education Grant For Daughter

by Richard Shute
(Port Saint Lucie, Florida, USA)

The Three of Us

The Three of Us

I proudly served in the United States Coast guard in a number of positions, some with search and rescue and some experimental with research and development.

I was injured in 1974 after being involved in a mishap that left me with severe back injuries. I am currently collecting disability pay from the Department of Veterans Affairs and The Social Security Administration.

I am a man who worked for almost 30 years in supporting my family and myself because the thought of assistance was not a part of my makeup.

After a failed marriage, I met the girl of my dreams in 1988, and we were married in 1990. In December of 1991 we were blessed with a daughter we named Marissa (meaning sea star). My wife Jan and I both loved the sea and thus the name.

During our marriage we spent much of our time on the beaches of southeast Florida, swimming and collecting shells, enjoying each other and the sun, sand and sea.

In 1998 my mother moved down here close to us, and it was my privilege to care for her until she died last September.

In Easter of 2008 my wife was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer in its fourth and deadliest stage. I was told to call Hospice and take my wife home.

She chose to fight and I chose to help her in any way I could.

For the next two plus years we made 77 trips across the state to H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Treatment and Research Center at The University of South Florida in Tampa.

It was about a 300-mile round trip and required over 250 overnight stays. Between the wearing out of cars, and the expenses of fuel, hotel and food, we pretty much depleted any savings that we had.

In the meantime, our home was depreciating in value due to the housing debacle and the banks. I don't understand it all but somehow our $250,000 home is barely worth the $122,000 that is owed on it.

Three weeks before our daughter's high school graduation on May 12, 2010, my wife, best friend and love of my life, Janet Anne Shute, passed into the next life.

I had spent thousands and thousands keeping her alive and it was worth every dime. I heard it said, "If you have a problem that money will solve, it's not a problem." I never understood but now I do. All the money in the world could not bring my wife back to health.

Unfortunately, I have been left with a daughter who needs a college education. She is in her third year studying to become an educator.

She is enrolled in Florida Atlantic University and now has to live 100 miles away in her own place near Boca Raton, Florida. Rents in the area are in the $1000 - $1200 per month range in a safe and secure place so it presents a problem financially.

She does get some assistance from my education for dependents benefit which is terrific and I am grateful. However, I still maintain our home in Port saint Lucie and it is difficult making ends meet.

My credit cards are beginning to have outstanding balances but I can surely keep up with everything.

I have thought seriously about moving to Panama because of the low cost of living but I do not want to leave the United States.

With all the troubles, I believe there is no better thing to be than an American and I am proud of my service and the opportunities afforded our daughter. So we just keep plugging along and doing the best we can.

I have trouble walking because of damage to L2-3, L3-4, L4-5 and paralysis of the sciatic nerve which affects the feeling in my right leg.

I need a cane to walk due to the fall from a height of over 10 feet during a mishap aboard the Coast Guard cutter Chase in 1974. I also have spinal stenosis as a result and arthritis as well.

I am currently rated 100% because of Individual Unemployability. I attempted training through The Department of Veterans Affairs but they determined I was not eligible because of my inability to be consistent in leaving bed daily to hold employment.

I am having difficulty trying to help our daughter with her housing due to her educational needs and related expenses: transportation, fuel, insurance, apartment, food, etc. She is attempting to find work in the area she lives in.

Meanwhile I am unable most days to clean my home, or do many of the things required to maintain my own home. I am on narcotic pain medication that renders me unable to drive safely.

I have to pay folks to mow the grass, clean the pool, clean my home, etc. I have attempted to sell my home but its value has changed such that I may not get the payoff so I can't afford to sell.

I was able to sell cars for over 25 years while I dragged my leg around but as I got older I could no longer do it. I attempted to buy and sell cars on eBay with very little success because of the present state of the economy.

I attempted selling motorcycles, thinking that the fuel savings would be attractive but I lost money on each one I sold and presently own two of them that I cannot GIVE away.

As I stated, our daughter gets educational assistance from my Veteran's Benefit for Dependents but it does not begin to cover the expense

I am looking for grants that will help our daughter to complete her education without having to worry about where her next meal is coming from and I would like some assistance with the care of myself and my home.

My condition will only worsen as time goes on and the disability, coupled with the loss of my wife and my mother leads me to be depressed much of the time.

I am on medication to try and overcome that but I am still unable to walk around about 50% of the time. I am quite often bedridden and although I do my best I have trouble keeping up with daily home chores and maintenance.

I have sought counseling in the past and I have a good support system of friends and family but my burden is financial in its nature.

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