Retired Fort Riley Army Capt. Ryan Kules was just 24 years old when a roadside bomb in Iraq took his right arm to the shoulder and entire left leg in 2005.
After he left Walter Reed Army Medical Center 18 months later, he used a then-$64,000 Department of Veterans Affairs grant to partially renovate his house to make it accessible for disability.
The Specially Adaptive Housing grant provided by the VA, however, only covers the costs of modifications in one house, even though many Americans do not live in just one home their whole lives. Kules and his wife, Nancy, now have three children ages 12, 9 and 7 and their housing needs have changed. So this year it was time to move.
The costs to widen hallways, to modify showers and toilets and add entry ramps this time amounted to more than $90,000 and have come out of the family’s pocket. Kules said they paid it by using the equity from their first home.
Kules is now a veterans’ advocate at the Wounded Warrior Project and he spoke with reporters in Washington to discuss the need for legislation to expand the VA grant program.