What is enough? Most of us think of enough when have had enough food or are we warm enough? What about when someone tells you that your spouse "isn't wounded enough" to qualify for assistance? Did you ever think you'd hear that?
I know you are probably thinking that I am kidding, but I am not. Our friends did a story with a Maryland news reporter about "not being wounded enough." You can watch it here.
I wish I could say Franz and Shannon are the only ones who have ever heard these words "wounded enough," but no Chaz and I have heard it many times. And we are just a few who have heard this statement. Families are told this all the time. We were once told if Chaz had lost his arm instead of letting Walter Reed save it, then we could qualify for more things. I truly wish I was making that up, but I am not.
Yes friends, there's a magical scale out there that determines when our wounded have been "wounded enough." Knowing this should make you very uncomfortable. Knowing this should make you angry and it should make you question the non-profits you donate to. Knowing this should make you angry enough to challenge the VA's Special Adaptive Housing Grant.
I have known Franz and Shannon since the early days of their journey. I have given them tons of big sister style advice. Turns out we grew up about twenty miles apart from each other, but it took war to bring us together.
Franz and Shannon have been turned down by several non-profits because, wait for it......he has both of his legs. Many non-profits who build homes rely on the wounded to get their special adaptive housing grant of $67,555 in order to build them a home. (Please note: The VA states the maximum dollar amount allowable for SAH grants in fiscal year 2014 is $70,465 on their website. We were informed by our TN-VA rep that we will receive $67,555 for our home build.) If you click here you can read why they are not fully qualifying Franz for the VA grant. According to the VA representatives they met with, he has to have loss or loss of use of two extremities. They were denied they VA adaptive vehicle grant because of the same reason.
Franz was shot five times by Afghan troops who were supposed to be friendly. They shattered his hip, and it had to be totally replaced. Walter Reed is still trying to save one of his legs. Franz can walk, but with a lot of pain. The walking pain is Franz and Chaz's bond. Neither of them can walk without horrible pain. So just like Chaz, Franz needs to be in his wheelchair the overwhelming majority of his day. This means that like Chaz, Franz needs a fully accessible home built for him.
Chaz and I have spent 2014 learning all about building your own home. So many think a non-profit is building our home. This is NOT true. Chaz and I are building our home! We secured the construction loan and we have secured donations of products and cash to make his home a reality. But a home-building non-profit is NOT helping us build our forever home.
The first home building non-profit we talked to told us Chaz wasn't "injured enough" to qualify for one of their homes. The second wanted complete control over our bank accounts. The third showed up and had a ground breaking and then stopped communicating with us. It was at this point where we took charge and just have done it ourselves.
We have had several non-profits approach since we began our build. They all wanted to fire our builders and refuse the products we had been given and take complete control of our build. My favorite was the one who said we needed to stop our build immediately, apply with them and they would guarantee our home would be build within two years. Or the other one that said for us to stop building and they would build for us within two years in another state. Or the other one that said if we would give them all the money we had raised they would make sure our build was finished and finished correctly.
Franz and Shannon have watched our family go through all of this BS for the past two years. TWO YEARS!!! For two years, we have had people dangle carrots in front of us with their magic promises so we would follow their lead, only to not return emails or phone calls. Or they finally come back and say they can't help us because Chaz "isn't wounded enough" or that we have done "enough for ourselves to where we really don't need assistance."
In the hopes of being good friends, Chaz and I have shared our entire journey with Franz and Shannon. It is our hope that rather than being told they are not enough of something that they know that some people actually care and won't help them with crazy strings or criteria attached. But the one thing we cannot help them with is the VA. We cannot make them "grant accepted." Only the VA can decide if Franz can have that $67,555.
He will need that money to build his home. An accessible home includes wider door ways, lower counter tops, special features in the bathroom and throughout the home. The booklet of tasks you must complete for the VA to give you that $67,555 is huge. The good news for Franz and Shannon is if they can get grant approved, Chaz and I know the VA rep that will be approving their build and we will be able to help them there.
Our forever home will cost $430,000 by the time it is finished. I have chatted with several families over the cost of their homes. Many that we have chatted with share the price range we are in, we know of several who have homes way above our price range.
You might say that is too much, but
the non-profit who held the groundbreaking....the house they proposed
to us had an estimated cost of over $600,000. Chaz and I cut out over
$170,000 in our home and then we had to actually make it fully
accessible. Yes the people who were supposed to build us an "accessible
home" did not provide us with accessible plans. We had to sit with the
VA and adjust the plans before building. Then we, with the help of our builders, set out to get as many product and cash donations as possible for our home.
As a nation, we are failing our wounded, ill and injured. We are making them continue to fight for benefits they should receive. Franz should not have to fight for his grant. Just like Chaz, Franz has paperwork to show he was deployed to Afghanistan, then medically evacuated out of the battlefield, to Germany and then to Walter Reed. Just like Chaz, Franz will have an enormous medical record substantiating his injuries from the war he fought in. But because Chaz lost two legs and you can visibly see his struggle the VA will give him a grant. Because they can see that Franz still has legs, they ignorantly assume he is "not wounded enough" to warrant the grant for his home. Franz just like Chaz fought, bled and almost died for our country. Our VA system should provide him the same benefit.
Just like Chaz, the VA benefit of $67,555 will not be enough to build Franz and Shannon's forever home. They will need us all to step up and help wherever we can. Chaz and I are helping by sharing information of all sorts with Franz and Shannon. It is our hopes that once we build our home, we can then help them build theirs. A Go Fund Me account has been set up for them to get this home built. Please consider helping them. You can visit their link by clicking here.
If you want to learn more about Franz and Shannon, you can visit their facebook page by clicking here. Please lift them up in your prayers and support them however you can!