Stephen Graham is a Vietnam War Veteran and quadriplegic on extended bed rest. He has lasting injuries as a result of explosions during combat and suffered a horrible car accident in which he broke his neck, while attending business school when he returned from the service.
Stephen volunteered to sacrifice and serve his country, hoping for a better life and opportunity. Like so many men, Stephen said while speaking to his PTSD “the war is over but for me the battle still rages in my head...and I cannot get aid ... because I can not prove the fact I was injured in Vietnam in combat. My extensive medical records were destroyed in a fire in Saint Louis, Missouri,” This is frustrating, as doctors have told him he has metal fragments in his kidney from the explosives. Two-thirds of his monthly disability income goes to Home Care and Therapy.
To add insult to injury, after Stephen’s car accident, he was too incapacitated to press charges. He could not obtain help from the VA as his injuries were not “service connected”. Stephen has struggled to live and pay for his own health services and his home repairs. After breaking his neck in the car accident he has since suffered from osteomyelitis, a bone and blood infection for the last 11 years and stage 4 wounds, which are bed sores from not being able to move from the bed.
When we heard Stephen Graham’s story and saw the photos of his kitchen falling apart, we had to help. The least we could do was make his home more comfortable and accessible for him and his niece who helps to take care of him. His kitchen sink was broken, the cabinets were falling apart, the floor was unsafe for rolling a wheel-chair, the appliances he had were rusted and the electrical was not working properly.
Stephen worked with LOK Construction who helped the family design the kitchen and make everything safe and new. Stephen, his niece and his niece’s children now have newfound relief during meal times and Stephen is able to roll right up to his work desk to use the computer.
Stephen’s humble emails and phone calls consistently blew us away. He said he wakes up now with hope and happiness. Talking with him also emphasised how life changing and important barrier-free modifications are for the safety and mental well being of our veterans.