By: State Senator Kathleen O’Connor Ives – May 2013
We are all shocked and saddened by the cruelty of the attacks inflicted on innocent people at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. We mourn for the four individuals who lost their lives and their grieving friends and families. Our hearts also go out to the injured victims and their families. They were random bystanders who will never have the same lives again. During this painful time, we are all trying to respond. We want to be supportive. We want to be helpful and make a difference. There are two proposed pieces of legislation that will do just that.
Injured survivors are beginning different lives with new challenges. Very few families have prepared for the financial hardship that accompanies the necessity of home modification. Those injured victims, once discharged from the hospital and rehabilitation, will have to adjust to living with physical challenges, most typically in the same places where they resided before the attacks. Retrofitting homes with the ramps and making other adjustments for access is costly. This can result in delay and frustration. Without question, the injured have already suffered enough.
I support the efforts of Representative Claire Cronin and State Senator Thomas Kennedy for filing house bill 3615, an act providing for home modifications and moving expenses for certain victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.” This bill will allow for a one-time receipt of $10,000 for each of the fourteen people who lost a limb or use of a limb because of the bombings. The monies are for home modifications in order to make residences handicapped accessible. In cases where it makes more sense to relocate to a handicapped accessible home, the funds may be applied toward the moving expenses needed to relocate.
Even though the One Fund has raised upwards of $28 million, much of those donations will be applied toward non-covered medical expenses and divided amongst survivors and families. That money will be necessary for the survivors’ new and ongoing medical costs, which will be difficult to cover as injured victims may also experience diminished earnings. This bill helps in the specific area of home modification, which is an additional and necessary need for many survivors.
Unfortunately, the Marathon Bombing survivors aren’t the only citizens in need of support for home modifications. Another important piece of legislation under consideration during the legislative session is House Bill number 3177, titled An Act to Improve Veterans Home Modifications, sponsored by Representative Carlo Basile, would establish a program to assist disabled veterans in making home modifications so that they can enter, exit and navigate their homes.
This important legislation was referred to the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs and hard-working municipal veterans’ agents–veterans themselves–spoke in support of the legislation and detailed the very real need to support injured veterans in this way.
This bill would assist a veteran, regardless of age, who has either 1) lost a limb or limbs or 2) lost the use of a limb or limbs, while serving in the military. They would receive financial resources specifically for the purpose of home modification. Modification would included special fixtures or movable components relative to the veteran’s disability. Veterans that own a home, as well as veterans who rent, would be eligible. The Commissioner of Veteran’s Services would create the rules and standards to confirm eligibility and the awarding of home modification benefits.
I’m focused on advocating for both items in the Legislature so we can translate good will and support into meaningful legislation that will assist so many in need. All of these survivors and our veterans deserve to be welcomed home.