Disabled Vet Helps Disabled Vet

West Haven, CT

When Carl MacLeod joined the Disabled Veterans of America, he knew he wanted to give back to other veterans like himself. Little did he know that soon he would find himself on the receiving end of help. Diagnosed in 2004 with chronic solvent encephalopathy, also known as “Gulf War Syndrome,” Carl became unable to work as a plant maintenance manager at Clairol. He was also unable to continue to renovate his fixer-upper house in West Haven, Connecticut, to be handicap accessible. Fate interfered further when his elderly father suffered a debilitating heart attack, and Carl and his wife, Kristy, discovered multiple bureaucracies blocking their access to adequate disability payments.

Carl and Kristy are now living in a half-gutted home along with four of their six children. They have also taken in Carl’s frail parents. Carl has good days in addition to the bad ones. He still manages to assist other disabled vets by coordinating their transportation and helping them fill out disability forms. It’s through the volunteer work for Disabled Veterans of America that another vet, Henry Racki, became aware of Carl’s plight and realized he might be able to provide a solution.

“I wanted to give back to someone who gave to his country,” said Henry, owner of Rockfall Construction, a disabled-veteran-held company. Rockfall does home renovations and builds and installs Practical Assisted Living Solutions (“PALS”) modular additions through its Ready Living Structures Division.

“Anyone who wants to enable aging parents or a disabled loved one to live at home instead of in an institution can attach a PALS modular addition to their house and provide a safe, secure, handicap accessible living environment,” said Henry. “These additions provide independence because they easily meet people’s special needs at a fraction of the cost of assisted living or a nursing home.”

Henry visited Carl with the idea of donating a PALS addition to him, but once he saw how much Carl was trying to do for his family and for others, the extent of the work that needed to be done on the MacLeod home, and the series of unfortunate events that had befallen them, he wanted to do more. “It was like the ‘finger of fate’ had really gone after this guy. And the system had abandoned them.”

Without sufficient disability pay or Carl’s salary, the family is living under a load of debt and cannot take on more. Kristy has a job as an office manager but in this economy is fearful of losing it.

Henry has refused to stand by. He got together with Dick Schmidt, owner of ProBuilt Modular Homes in Mifflintown, PA, and developed a plan to provide Carl and his family with a PALS unit for their home. “I’m now assisting the MacLeods to complete the entire renovation project. We’ve done a plot plan and a master construction plan, secured the zoning variances and building permits, and are preparing the ground for the PALS addition. This is like an ‘Extreme Makeover Home Edition’, but we don’t have TV sponsors picking up the tab.”

Henry’s company can only do so much. He is actively looking for veterans organizations, church groups, other contractors, supply companies or just good people to donate time, talent, materials or funding to facilitate the completion of MacLeods’ home makeover. He estimates that it will cost $40,000 to bring the MacLeod home up to code and provide accessible living to Carl and his parents.

Anyone who would like to help – or knows an organization that can – should contact Henry Racki at 860-790-6291 or email him at: henry@rockfallco.com.

Kristy MacLeod said in a letter to Henry that he “was truly God sent” and that she and her family will be “forever grateful” to any organization that can help them.

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