After returning home and recovering from physical injuries, disabled veterans have many more hurdles to face while rebuilding their life at home. Navigating VA services to get assistance with healthcare, housing and finding a job is daunting in itself, but the little things like getting used to a prosthetic and finding clothing that works with it add up to a lot of time and effort. It might seem impossible to get into routines and activities that feel “normal” again or find people who won’t treat you differently.
You’re definitely not alone. We gathered some information on organizations and resources specifically for disabled veterans as well as a few tips for living your best life with a disability. You have done an incredible service for our country, and you deserve to not just live a comfortable life, but one you really enjoy.
#1 Find Your Community
Some of your best allies in navigating life after deployment with a disability are other disabled veterans. DAV has an amazing hub of information on the issues disabled veterans face, and they might have a local chapter in your area. The Gary Sinise Foundation and the Wounded Warrior Project are both focused on bringing the disabled veteran community together through events, support groups and more.
#2 Get comfortable in your home
Depending on your abilities and the kinds of equipment you need to get around, going about your day at home can be inconvenient at best and dangerous at worst. The Independence Fund strives to “bridge the gap of unmet needs for Veterans and their caregivers,” connecting veterans with all kinds of services and accommodations to improve their quality of life. If you don’t always want to wear your prosthetic at home, some find it beneficial to have a wheelchair for home use--our FLUX Slim-Line was designed specifically for this purpose, and veterans get a 10% discount when you order through GSAAdvantage!
#3 Know Where to Go
This app is a game-changer for anyone with limited mobility. iAccess is like Yelp, but instead of reviews and ratings of just restaurants, its users rate the accessibility of all kinds of public places. See what you can expect in terms of parking, entryways, bathrooms and interiors before you leave the house so you know in advance what mobility equipment you’ll need to bring with you (or what places to just avoid!) Need a chair that can keep up with you? Check out the FLUX Strongback Lightweight Portable Wheelchair.
#4 Find Clothes and Shoes that Work for You
In just the last couple of years, adaptive fashion has become its own industry. Designers are creating affordable clothes made to fit every body and every ability. And yes, some stores will sell single and split sized pairs of shoes! Zappos and Nike are on the list of companies with single-shoe programs, and you can also try Shoewap, Odd Shoe Finder or the National Odd Shoe Exchange (NOSE).
#5 Get Into Adaptive Sports
There’s a huge community of athletes with disabilities finding new ways to stay fit and enjoy a little healthy competition. Check out the Challenge Extended podcast about all things adaptive sports: news on the latest tech and equipment, upcoming events and opportunities and who’s who in the field. It’s produced by Move United, a comprehensive resource for all kinds of adaptive sports.
If you’re more the stay-at-home type when it comes to fitness, check out Yoga For Amputees!
#6 What About Dating?
Are you ready to put yourself out there and meet someone special? Once again, modern technology has come through with a solution: scope out the top dating apps for people with disabilities. On her experiences dating with a disability, Keisha Greaves says “It’s become funny to me that people assume that a disability diagnosis automatically nails the coffin shut on the opportunity for a dating life. Some even think that means that we’ve got no social life at all. But oh, how wrong they are!” Read more about what it’s like to date with a disability in Keisha’s story here.
Limited mobility does not mean limited travel! 2020 just happens to be the year of the RV, which as it turns out, can be one of the most accessible ways to see some new places.
Footprints Adventures helps people with limb differences and limb loss have fun and empowering adventures like whitewater rafting, ziplining and hiking.