On Nov. 15, 2004, while on patrol in the National Guard in Iraq, Dale Beatty’s Humvee hit an anti-tank landmine. Beatty lost his right leg after the blast and went through elective surgery a few weeks later to have his left leg amputated.
“As a soldier going to war you always know that something like that could happen, but you really don’t think about it. Fortunately, I was in the military treatment system so my buddies took care of me right away,” Beatty, a retired staff sergeant, told O&P Business News. “But I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to do all the things that I used to do again. I had two young children at the time, so I had a lot of fears that I wouldn’t be able to provide or sustain for my family at the same level that I had before.”
Purple Heart Homes
Before he was hospitalized, Beatty had planned on building a house for his family in his hometown of Statesville, N.C. However, his amputation confined him to a wheelchair and he worried about whether he would be able to accomplish his goal.
and College Park are planning a home solutions
project in Michigan.
Images: Dale Beatty
When he returned home he had more help than he expected.
“Folks in my town knew about the project and got involved and wanted to help,” Beatty said. “It was a great experience, not only for me, but for my community.”
Beatty knew he wanted to share the experience with other veteran amputees so in 2008, he co-founded the non-profit Purple Heart Homes with John Gallina, the National Guardsman driving the Humvee the day they hit the landmine.
Purple Heart Homes offers two programs to veteran amputees: the Veterans Aging in Place program and the Home Ownership Program. Free to service connected disabled veterans who meet Purple Heart Homes criteria, the Veterans Aging in Place program provides home remodels and additions designed to accommodate their particular injuries. The program is completely charitable, and Beatty encourages volunteer labor from the local community to help with the projects.
In the Home Ownership Program, Purple Heart Homes partners with local banks to help service connected disabled veterans qualify for a mortgage and become homeowners. Taking a foreclosed home from the bank, the non-profit renovates it to fit the needs of the veteran and has it appraised, cutting the appraised value in half so the veteran can afford it.
What separates Purple Heart Homes from similar non-profit organizations is that they strive to help all amputee veterans, not just those injured in Iraq or Afghanistan, Beatty said.
“My personal goal is to create an organization that has the same values and beliefs that we do about the entire veteran population in this country. Because veterans have been segmented into individual wars they have been allowed to be treated differently in those individual wars. It shouldn’t be that way and our goal is to change the way people think,” he said. “People identify with someone like me who is missing limbs and who was injured in Iraq vs. the millions of other veterans who are out there already. We want to level the playing field and provide the programs that fit the need that is out there in the community.”
Helping veterans and the community
According to Beatty, not only has Purple Heart Homes helped veterans purchase or renovate homes, it has also been therapeutic for veterans who are volunteering.
“Several Vietnam veterans have volunteered on our projects and have admitted to being able to let go of the demons they have carried around with them for the last 40 years because they were able to work for somebody else,” he said. “That is all we can hope for. That is why we started Purple Heart Homes.”
Over the next year, Purple Heart Homes has a goal to complete 50 projects and an overall campaign of 500 home solutions for veterans within the next 3 to 5 years.
“A lot of our projects can be accomplished with a ramp and a widened doorway, and that is not an expensive project,” Beatty said. “We can engage a lot of community help to easily knock out that work in 1 or 2 days and make a huge impact on the community, the veterans and the veteran caregivers.”
To help them reach their goal, the non-profit has partnered with College Park through their Soleus Tactical Program.
“College Park has been supporting us and we are planning a project with them in Michigan within the next year,” Beatty said. “We’re expanding and that part of our expansion is a goal of 10 chapters that can perform those types of limited scope projects to make an impact in the community, as well as continue with our home ownership mortgage program.” — by Casey Tingle
Disclosure: Beatty is co-founder of Purple Heart Homes.