Thursday, November 18, 2010

VA tells disabled vet in Massachusetts that he's not disabled enough for more accessible home

From The Pulse:

Iraq war veteran Matt Boisvert (pictured) of Pepperell says he just wants the government to keep the promises it made after an explosion took his leg and cost him the use of his right arm in Fallujah six years ago.

Boisvert, a former Marine corporal, says he doesn’t regret the sacrifices he made. But everything is harder now. He risks injury climbing in and out of his SUV in harsh winter conditions. He’d like a garage.

The Veterans Administration denied him a grant that would have helped him build it.

“I was told that disabled vets who are 30 percent disabled receive the grant, but I am 100 percent disabled,” Boisvert told The Pulse. “Having to deal with the VA is the worst part of losing my leg. People need to know how bad it is.”

Boisvert was just 21, and almost done with his second combat tour with Fox Company when a remote-controlled bomb exploded under his Humvee. The shrapnel tore through an artery in his right leg and ripped open the bicep in his right arm.

Twenty surgeries later, Boisvert, now 27, gets around with a prosthetic leg. He uses his left hand to shake hands. He lives on disability pay, splitting the mortgage on his $230,000 Pepperell home — bought with a VA loan — with his girlfriend. He plans to return to college this winter.

Last January, Boisvert applied for a VA adaptive housing grant. Last month, he was told it was denied.

“No one can tell me why,” he said.

After days of phone calls, a VA spokesman e-mailed the Herald: “Thank you for bringing this issue to our attention. VA takes its responsibility seriously to ensure that every Veteran receives the benefits and services they have earned through their service to our Nation. We are thoroughly reviewing this case.”

Boisvert is applying for the full $63,780 allowed under the grant program.

“I’ve had many accidents getting out of my car in the winter,” he told the Pulse. Above the garage, he’d like a room with some strength-building equipment and a whirlpool tub — an at-home rehab center.

“When I am mowing my lawn, or raking leaves, my good side is taking the brunt of my weight, and now it’s becoming my bad side, and I’m getting arthritis,” he said.

Boisvert, once the captain of Tyngsboro High’s hockey team, wants a walk-in shower, too. He’s fallen climbing into his tub. He hopes the VA will reconsider.

“I don’t want to seem like I’m complaining because a lot of guys don’t have a leg or a home,” he said, “but maybe by me going public with this, they’ll get help, too."