U.S. Sens. Jerry Moran, R-Kan. and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., have introduced a bill that would expand eligibility in the Specially Adapted Housing program for seriously injured or ill veterans.
The program offers grants to service members and veterans with certain severe service-connected disabilities. The grants help with building, remodeling or purchasing accommodating homes.
The Paul Benne Specially Adaptive Housing Improvement Act of 2019 would give seriously ill veterans priority consideration for program grants, increase the number of awarded grants from three to six per veteran and increase the number of authorized applications per year. The definition of seriously ill would be determined by the Department of Veterans Affairs secretary.
The introduced legislation is named after retired Army Col. Paul Benne, a former chief of the Department of Health at Irwin Army Medical Hospital at Fort Riley. Benne currently resides in Manhattan.
In 2013, Benne developed a medical condition that led to his retirement from the Army. In 2016, the Department of Veterans Affairs fitted Benne for a wheelchair, and he applied for an SAH grant because his home and vehicle could not accommodate the new chair.
After more than a year of navigating the VA, the Benne family sought help from Moran’s office, which helped them receive the funding they needed in just a few months.
“This modernized and expanded grant program will allow veterans to utilize vital SAH grants in a way that best fit their needs — providing greater support and improving the quality of life for many of our nation’s veterans,” Moran said in a statement. “Thank you to Col. Benne and his wife, Christine, for their decades of selfless service to our nation and for their advocacy, resiliency and willingness to share their story, which will undoubtedly help many veterans in the future.”
Similar legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.