By Amanda V. Stepp-Marcum
After watching the Academy Award winning movie American Sniper, I began to reflect on our wounded veterans around the country. As a real estate agent, my focus is always on helping others achieve the American Dream of homeownership but this movie made me think about the physically wounded soldiers in the U.S. and their specific housing needs.
It also happens that the subject is a very personal one for me.
My husband is an above-the-knee amputee. In 2006, he was fortunate enough to custom-build a home that would suit the physical needs associated with wearing a prosthetic. No one can possibly know—including me, even though I have lived with him for three years—what it’s like to wake up each morning and find the energy to put on a prosthetic limb. I can’t imagine how much physical and mental strength it takes to not only get out of bed but also leave the house every day.
But each morning, he does it and I couldn’t be prouder.
So, how does our home tailor to his needs? Let’s start with the bedroom, and specifically, with the layout of this room. For an amputee, there are many challenges associated with getting ready for the day. A more spacious bathroom/closet area is a must as well as a threshold-free entrance or curbed walk-in tiled shower. Anchored grab bars throughout the shower and water closet are also important for comfort and safety. Additionally, our doorways are wider than in a traditional home to accommodate a wheelchair. Closet and bathroom doorways are the most important places for these extended doorways.
When I think about how our house differs in design and function from your typical home, it makes me thankful to know what customizations are necessary to accommodate a special-needs resident. Helping veterans achieve the dream of homeownership is a special niche that is not only underrepresented in our industry but also attached to a hearty sense of fulfillment and selflessness. As real estate agents, we have a chance to help serve those who have served us, providing these brave soldiers with a place they can call home.
AMANDA V. STEPP-MARCUM is an agent with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Foster, REALTORS® in Richmond, KY and a member of the national REthink Council. Find her on Facebook and Twitter.