When it comes to purchasing a new vehicle the number of choices can seem limitless, including motorcycles, trucks and the newest electric sports cars. However, for disabled veterans the vehicle options has generally been limited to a converted minivan. Now the available choices are expanding.
As a part of veterans’ disability compensation the Veterans Administration provides disabled veterans with a purchase and outfitting allowance for a vehicle. Last year, the VA raised the amount of the purchase allowance from $11,000 to $18,900. In addition to the purchase allowance, most of the costs to outfit the vehicle to accommodate a disability are usually covered.
One retired marine who was left a paraplegic by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan will not let his disability slow him down. This summer he will visit national parks with his family in their F-350 Super Duty pickup with a fifth-wheel RV. He will also be towing a three-wheel motorcycle.
The motorcycle was designed by a British inventor and is equipped with a ramp and platform between the wheels. The bike’s roll-on ramp means that the marine does not need to get out of his wheelchair. A handicap parking spot is not needed, because the ramp lowers from the rear of the bike.
A 22-year-old vet mentioned that when most people see a young man in a minivan they assume he is disabled. The young Army sergeant, a quadriplegic, is able to drive a pickup thanks to a lift seat. A chair crane stows his wheelchair in the bed of the pickup. For the young man, who is active with the Paralyzed Veterans of America, driving was his first real accomplishment.
Minivans still dominate the market, since they offer more space and can handle the weight of motorized wheelchairs. However, several companies across the country are converting minivans with an eye toward younger drivers.
The new outfitting options are allowing disabled veterans more vehicle choices and the ability to feel like everyone else.
Source: USA Today, “Disabled vets get hot wheels despite their wheelchairs,” Chris Woodyard, May 9, 2012.
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