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My Generation

Purple Heart Homes

Veterans helping veterans find comfort, dignity in their housing

In 2004, North Carolina National Guard members Dale Beatty and John Gallina were serving in Iraq when a roadside bomb nearly killed them. After they returned to the States, they found support at a local coffee shop that attracted war veterans. But it needed a wheelchair ramp. Beatty, a contractor, and Gallina, himself without legs, pitched in, then followed up their efforts by building a ramp and deck for a Vietnam vet's home.

Their efforts grew into Purple Heart Homes, a nonprofit that builds and retrofits homes for older veterans and the disabled. Safety is the focus, but they also consider the work a tribute to the soldiers' service. For veterans, "to crawl to your bathroom is not the answer," says Gallina. My Generation meets two combat-wounded veterans continuing their mission at home.

Also of interest: With universal design, one size fits all.

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