A bill named after two Fort Riley soldiers, sponsored by Sen. Jerry Moran, passed the Senate last week.
The Senate passed the Ryan Kules and Paul Benne Specially Adaptive Housing Improvement Act of 2019. This legislation, introduced back in July by Moran and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona), expands specially adapted housing (SAH) eligibility for veterans who are seriously injured, ill or blind, according to a release from Moran’s office.
The legislation is named after two Fort Riley soldiers, the late Paul Benne and Ryan Kules. This legislation increases grant amounts, doubles maximum number of awarded grants from three to six for each veteran and also allows blind veterans to access this grant, according to the release. It also increases the number of applications from 30 to 120 every fiscal year.
Moran, chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs committee, worked with Benne on this legislation before Benne passed away in December.
Benne, who was a colonel, served at Fort Riley and Fort Leavenworth for 23 years. Benne suffered from a medical condition in 2013 that ultimately led to his retirement from the U.S. Army in 2013. He became 100% disabled and was wheelchair-bound. He died Dec. 7, 2019 at age 54.
Kules is the director of combat stress recovery programs for the Wounded Warrior Project.
“This important bill will help thousands of seriously wounded, injured and ill veterans make necessary improvements to their homes to make them safer, more navigable and more responsive to their needs,” Kules said.
Benne applied for a SAH grant because Benne’s house nor car was able to accommodate the wheelchair. Benne and Christine, Benne’s wife, reached out to Moran’s office for assistance on this issue, which led to Moran crafting the bill. Christine currently lives in Manhattan.