Since November is the month when both Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving occur, it is the perfect time to thank a veteran for their service to our country. Their service too often goes unappreciated or even disdained. The liberties that this nation was founded on are disappearing under our noses and those who fought and bled and died to preserve those liberties are not given the credit they deserve. I encourage everyone to take time this month to show a veteran how much you appreciate their service.

            One of the ways that we are honored to be able to show our appreciation to our veterans is by helping them continue to live comfortably and safely in their home through home modifications. If you or a loved one is a veteran who could benefit from these programs, I would be delighted to help point you in the right direction. There are three grants we participate with to modify homes for veterans, the Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grant, the Home Improvement and Structural Alteration (HISA) grant, and the Granting Freedom grant. I will give some of the requirements and details of each grant here. Feel free to get in touch with me if you have questions or need more information.

            The SAH grant is the largest of the three, the most comprehensive, and has the strictest requirements. In order to qualify for the SAH grant, a veteran must have a service connected disability that falls within the guidelines of the program. The grant is used to help the veteran live independently in a barrier free environment. The funds can be used to remodel an existing home to meet the requirements, build a new home that is compliant, or even pay down the principal on a home you already own that is accessible according to the VA standards. Bear in mind that the standards are quite stringent and the VA will generally stick to the letter of the law in meeting their accessibility requirements. For example, there must be two means of egress such as a ramp or lift, one of which must lead directly from the veteran’s bedroom. The current maximum amount of the grant is $90,364. The grant is administered through the VA Regional office, located in the Poff building.

            The HISA grant is available to veterans with both service connected and non service connected disabilities. A HISA grant will pay up to $6,800 to a veteran with a service connected disability and $2,000 to a veteran with a non service connected disability. This is the only one of the three grants that offers benefits to veterans with non service connected disabilities. The HISA grant will pay to modify an existing home to make it more accessible. Examples include installing a curbless shower or widening doorways. It cannot be used to alter the use of part of a home such as converting a bedroom into a bathroom. HISA grants are administered by the prosthetics department at the VA hospital.

            The Granting Freedom grant is paid with private funds and is administered by the Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA). The requirements are similar to the HISA grant except that it is not available to veterans with non service connected disabilities. This grant pays up to $6,000. The application is processed by your local independent living center.

            We frequently do jobs for veterans combining two or even all three of these grants on the same project. There is also accessibility equipment available to veterans who need it outside of these grant programs. For more information, please call me at 540-384-2064.

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