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Injured vets get homes tailored to their needs

A nonprofit organization that provides assistance to select U.S. veterans who served in the Middle East after 9/11 is not particularly well-known in Nevada, but it’s beginning to gain a large presence. Homes For Our Troops builds mortgage-free homes for qualified veterans who have suffered severe injuries including missing limbs, varying levels of paralysis, blindness and traumatic brain injury. The homes are specially adapted for those particular 9/11 veterans, not only giving them and their families a place to live, but also enabling them to rebuild their lives.

HFOT has built two homes in Northern Nevada, and several weeks ago it broke ground on one in Las Vegas.

In 2006, Sgt. Adam Poppenhouse was on his initial deployment as a tanker with the Army’s 3rd Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. While in the process of securing a crash site and rescuing a pilot, his vehicle hit an improvised explosive device. He immediately lost his right leg, and sometime later his left leg as well.

Through aggressive physical therapy, rehabilitation and prosthetics, he regained an active lifestyle. Like all veterans who benefit from Homes for Our Troops, Poppenhouse applied through the Department of Veterans Affairs to gain approval for its specially adapted housing program. There is also a criminal background check, a financial review of tax filings, banking and income/debt information and other personal assessments.

Poppenhouse and his wife, Megan, and their three small sons passed inspection, and a groundbreaking was held several weeks ago in Las Vegas. A man of few words, he said that the home, with 40 adaptations to make it easier for him to navigate, is destined to be the last place he plans to live.

The organization reports that between 1,000 and 1,500 service members have returned home from post-9/11 duty with life-altering injuries. They must relearn skills often taken for granted such as walking, eating, talking and bathing. HFOT builds single-level homes that contain special adaptations including widened doorways, lowered countertops and a roll-in shower. The organization does a fantastic job building those special homes and making life a bit easier for veterans.

It’s too bad that charity with its technology and wherewithal didn’t exist in past wars such as Vietnam, Korea and World War II. However I may be incorrect in describing HFOT as a charity. A spokesman at the groundbreaking said, “We don’t look at our homes like charity. It’s a moral obligation.”

For more information, go to www.hfotusa.org.

Radio lives on

Radio has been declared “dead” many times. Yet it still serves us when we’re riding in automobiles, at home doing the dishes and on our mobile phones when we access select radio applications. Yesterday there was AM and FM. Today there are SiriusXM, HD radio and internet radio. I’ve been called a “radio rat” by a top radio executive (a compliment), because I have been a radio broadcaster for many years and I love doing it.

For the past three years I was on a Las Vegas station owned by Lotus Broadcasting, hosting weekly interviews with veterans, active duty military, elected officials who work on veterans and/or military legislation, and others who were connected in some way with those who have served or are serving our country. Several months ago Lotus canceled my show, preferring to fold the content into a nondescript public service program that includes dozens of other nonprofit charitable organizations in Southern Nevada.

I’m sure those nonprofits are pleased to get all that free air time, and most of them deserve it. And apparently some veterans’ programming will be included, but it will be just be one of many topics that will catch a bit of air time shared by others. No more solid half-hours each and every week dedicated to veterans and military. C’est la vie, as the saying goes.

But fear not loyal listeners, I’ve been able to promote veterans’ issues on another airwave. Every Sunday at 8:30 a.m., I can now be heard on KKVV-AM, 1060 on the dial. The show has the same name as before, “That’s America to Me.” I’m inviting everyone to tune in and be enlightened and informed.

In addition to that, for several months now I have been broadcasting “America’s Veterans Today and Tomorrow,” one-minute vignettes about the veterans and military community, on KUNV-FM. The station, run by the University of Nevada Las Vegas, has generously granted me air time to let its listeners learn about the local veterans’ scene. So things change and time moves on, and at times we all have to roll with the punches. And I hope you’ll punch the dial to 1060 AM on Sunday mornings at 8:30.

Chuck N. Baker is a Vietnam War veteran and a Purple Heart recipient.

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