It Feels Good to be a Part of Something EXTRAORDINARY
The "Vets Helping Vets" program has grown out of an idea that in these tough economic times, we sometimes forget those who need help, especially those who served our country and were left behind by the system that was to provide them the benefits they earned, but forgot them. Someone has to stand up and give back. The Rockfall Company LLC and “No Vet Left Behind” are asking for your help in giving back to those who gave to us.
The Rockfall Company has recently introduced the "first of its kind" Practical Assisted Living Structures (PALS)™, modular home additions that provide a cost-effective means for the disabled and elderly to remain in their homes thereby delaying or even avoiding the necessity for institutional care. We, as a disabled veteran-owned company, wanted to give something back to those that served their country and now need help. Our efforts began with a contact to the Connecticut chapter of Disabled America Veterans (DAV) to find a Vet that could benefit from a PALS module.
Working with the DAV field office in Newington, CT, we were introduced to Carl MacLeod, his wife Kristy and their six children. Fate has been very unkind to the MacLeods and the bureaucratic maze the family has had to traverse has added to the nightmare.
Carl retired from the Army in 2001, bought a house and moved his family to West Haven, Connecticut where he took on a job as a Plant Maintenance Manager for a major international company. In 2002 Carl began to plan for the expansion and renovation of his home to accommodate the family’s needs. Carl began the renovation work himself in late 2002 after receiving all of the variance approvals and permits from city authorities. In early 2003, however, Carl began to experience balance, memory and muscular issues. After a full evaluation by the VA doctors (including a poison specialist), Carl was diagnosed with Chronic Solvent Encephalopathy (CSE), a condition also known as Gulf War Syndrome. CSE is often described as a cross between Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Carl's health rapidly became worse and it was soon obvious he could no longer work. He applied for disability through his employer, and was told they had changed their plan when Operation Iraqi Freedom started and would not grant him disability pay. His employer then relieved him of his duties without pay.
Carl's health was failing, he no long had a job, the home addition was half complete and he and his family began living in temporary accommodations in their unfinished basement. Then things got worse. Carl was denied Social Security disability and had to hire an attorney to pursue the claim which took over a year to be settled and awarded. Then his wife Kristy was in an auto accident and was out of work for over a year without pay. When she finally returned to work, she too was laid off. To date, the MacLeods have depleted all of their savings (including their retirement savings) and nothing is left to finish the house and provide the handicapped accommodations that Carl needs.
As to his military status, bureaucratic blunders, red tape and procedural errors have delayed Carl’s VA reclassification regarding his benefit package. As regards his home, while the Macleod family has received several well-intentioned promises of help from various individuals and organizations, that help has yet to materialize in any significant way. Zoning and building issues, open building permits and numerous bureaucratic issues needed to be resolved before work could begin.
The Rockfall Company’s original roll in this project was to provide a PALS™ module to Carl and Kristy to enable them to remain living in their home. We also committed ourselves to helping the MacLeods clean up certain exterior issues resulting from the first renovation. Then more difficulties struck. Carl’s dad, a retired Vietnam-era Veteran living in Michigan, had a massive heart attack and Carl's frail mother was unable to take care of him. Being the only family his parents had, Carl and Kristy have taken them in. Now two more people requiring handicap living accommodations were added to the family and the challenge became even greater. As to our involvement, while the scope of the project has far exceeded our original commitment, we are determined that we will not walk away and leave these nice people disappointed again with nowhere to turn.
The Rockfall Company continues to be committed to completing this project by resolving any remaining building and zoning issues and by providing the facilities needed by Carl and his dad. To date, we have redesigned an interior addition, already under construction when we arrived, to become handicap-friendly living space for Carl and his wife. We then relocated the PALS™ module for use by his dad and mom. After preparing a construction plan and budget to complete the project, we obtained the necessary zoning variances from the City of West Haven and the project is now underway. Phase one of the project, the installation of the PALS™ module was delivered and installed on September 11, 2009 and a ribbon-cutting for this aspect, which will include new siding and windows on the entire home, will be scheduled sometime in late October, 2009. Completion of the entire project, including the wrap-up of various other works-in-progress throughout the home, should take place by December, 2009.
As to contributions, the RocKfall Company LLC and ProBuilt Homes Inc. of Mifflintown, PA have already fulfilled their commitment to provide the PALS™ module itself, which is a substantial portion of the project cost, but we still need help to finish up the other parts of the house. Much of the labor for the project will be provided by volunteers coming from veterans' organizations, church groups and individuals who want to help, but building materials and some skilled trades still need to be purchased to finish the whole project.
We are asking for whatever assistance anyone may be able to provide in raising the $50,000 needed for the material and skilled labor to finish the McLeod's home. Contributions are tax deductable. The finished project will provide the facilities Carl and his dad need to live a dignified and independent life at home in the care of their families and not in an institution. "No Vet Left Behind" a 501(c)(3) charitable organization in Derby CT dedicated to helping veterans in need, has agreed to establish and oversee the distribution of a special fund to complete the renovation of the MacLeod home. More information about this charitable organization may be obtained by visiting their website www.thenovetleftbehind.org.
If you have any questions regarding any of above, know of anyone who would like to help or know of an organization that may be of assistance, please feel free to contact us directly by calling Henry Racki's cell phone at (860) 790-6291 or John Ruocco on his cell phone at (203) 915-5206. You may also contact us via email by simply clicking on this link
Tax deductable contributions may be made to:
Many thanks for taking the time to read this!!!
—The Rockfall Company LLC.
P.S. 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.