Habitat for Heroes program builds ramp for veteran

By Tammy Keith Originally Published December 23, 2012 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated December 21, 2012 at 2:09 p.m.
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Tammy Keith

Vietnam veteran Richard Oglesby tries out the new ramp at his home in Conway. Habitat for Humanity of Faulkner County built the ramp last week through the Habitat for Heroes program. Also pictured, from the left, are Shenel Sandidge, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Faulkner County; Scott Moix of Scott Moix Construction of Conway; Kevin Moix, a firefighter with the Conway Fire Department; Kim Ward, community outreach coordinator for Habitat for Humanity of Faulkner County; and Brian White of B & K Construction of Conway. Veterans who need work done on their homes are asked to call the nonprofit organization at (501) 513-3244, or go to www.habitatforhumanityfaulknercounty.org.

— Richard Oglesby, a Vietnam veteran and single amputee, said he has worried about how he’d get out of his Conway home if there were a fire that forced him to leave through the front door.

That’s not a concern now that Habitat for Humanity of Faulkner County volunteers have built a wheelchair ramp for him.

“They’re very nice people,” he said of the organization’s employees and volunteers.

Shenel Sandidge, executive director of the nonprofit organization, said the work was part of the Habitat for Heroes program.

Oglesby, 66, said he donated $100 to buy a board for Habitat for Humanity house No. 21, which is down the street from the home he and his wife rent from his cousin. He also donated a wheelchair and a hospital bed to the organization.

Sandidge became acquainted with Oglesby and asked if he had any work that needed to be done at his home.

The program provides general repairs and modifications to homes of veterans or veterans’ caretakers.

“This is the first time I heard about it,” he said of the program.

Oglesby said he likes to do as much as he can by himself, but the ramp was a project that would have been costly and impossible for him to do alone.

On Wednesday, he supervised the construction, which volunteers finished in a few hours.

“The workers, they’re real good,” he said.

A rail will be put on later and painted by local college students, Sandidge said.

Oglesby said the Department of Veterans Affairs funded a ramp for him on the back of the house, but he said he told Sandidge, “Honey, if I ever have a fire, I’m going to have to jump off the front.”

Volunteers also enlarged the entrance to his bathroom to accommodate his wheelchair.

“They made it bigger so I can get the wheelchair in and don’t have to use my walker. I don’t have to get up on that walker and hobble 4 or 5 feet,” Oglesby said.

His wife, Jane, also has health problems. She said they were pleased with the ramp, “very much so.”

Oglesby said the amputation of his leg was a result of Agent Orange, a defoliant used by the U.S. military. He said he had to hire an attorney to prove the connection between his health problems and the chemical.

His first surgery was in May 2010.

“I died — Code Blue” during the surgery, he said.

He also had a stroke, he said, and didn’t wake up from a coma until May 23. Four months later, he had a “massive heart attack” when he was in Indiana to be with his brother, who was having heart-bypass surgery.

Oglesby said he has an artificial knee in his remaining leg and is experiencing circulation problems. He receives treatment at the John L. McClellan Memorial Veterans Hospital in Little Rock.

Oglesby, who grew up in Indiana, said he served in Vietnam from 1966-67.

He spent “20 years, five months and 15 days” working as a supervisor in equipment maintenance at Purdue University in Indiana.

Anthony Stanley, president of the Habitat for Humanity of Faulkner County Board of Directors, came to look at the team’s handiwork.

“It’s a very beneficial program,” Stanley said. “We love it. We love servicing our veterans — we want more to service.”

For more information on the Habitat for Heroes program, contact Sandidge at (501) 513-3244, or go to www.habitatforhumanityfaulknercounty.org.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

Niche Publications Senior Writer Tammy Keith can be reached at 501-327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

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