Sen. Little proposes helping fund improvements to disabled veteran’s homes
ST. PAUL, Minn – Minnesotans living with a disability face an avalanche of accessibility issues nearly everywhere they go. Even their homes are frequently not properly equipped for easy access. From wheelchair ramps to guardrails and wider doorways, these improvements – while costly – can help people and veterans with disabilities maintain their independence, and live in their homes with greater dignity.
On Thursday, Sen. Matt Little (DFL-Lakeville) proposed expanding the ways the money in the Support Our Troops Account can be spent to include grants to help make disability access improvements in or around a disabled veteran’s residence. The grants would be in amounts up to $3,000 per person – which is the same amount estimated to build and install a wheelchair ramp. The amendment was added onto a bill in the Senate Veterans and Military Affairs committee and was passed unanimously with bipartisan support and sent onto the full Finance Committee.
“I’ve heard from several local military leaders in my community that this kind of help for disabled veterans is absolutely critical. The grants are about using money we already have to help increase the quality of life for men and women who’ve given so much to our country. The least we can do is allow them to lead the dignified lives they desire,” said Sen. Little.
The Support Our Troops (SOT) account is funded by the purchasing of specialized license plates. Minnesotans pay a minimum of $30 a year for the plates, and the proceeds go into the SOT account, which is divided equally between the Department of Military Affairs (DMA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) to be used to support our military and veterans.
When the SOT plates were created, legislation was passed that prescribed what the money could be used for. The program has been successful and the fund has more than $650,000 in it this year, but the prescribed uses have been somewhat limiting. This successfully added amendment will expand the use of this money to have a real impact on the lives of disabled veterans.