Home Improvement Co. Helps Provide Wheelchair Ramp for Veteran

| March 10, 2014 | 0 Comments | Bristow Biz, Community

S.A. Home Improvement owner and general manager stands with Kautz family. (L-R: Seddik Anibar, Lisa Kautz, Victoria Kautz, Tony Carter; Front: Robert Kautz)

When a veteran’s injuries left him with limited mobility, S.A. Home Improvement, Inc. in Lorton agreed to subsidize approximately 50 percent of the cost of building a wheelchair accessible ramp outside his Manassas home.

Robert Kautz is a U.S. Air Force Veteran who served as an aircrew member for 15 years in Saudia Arabia and Iceland during the Cold War.

He describes his time in the military as “being a little hairy,” and the Cold War as “a big powder keg that could go off at any moment.”

“In those days we were basically playing games with the Russians,” Kautz said.

He explains that his generation was more fortunate than the current one, which has seen real wartime combat, and he expects will be recognized as the next “greatest generation.”

And because he feels a sense of comradery with those who served, Kautz works with local veterans’ organizations in the area, helping with older veterans and younger ones alike.

Although Kautz’s injuries are not war related, he did sustain them while serving overseas with the Air Force.

“When I joined the Air Force, I was a ground pounder on B52s; we were the guys who fixed the airplanes and kept them running,” Kautz said.

As part of his job, Kautz and one other man lifted 150 lb boxes within the aircraft.

“[They were] filled with oil and very slippery,” Kautz said, explaining that he and another man would hoist them over their heads.

“One day the box slipped out of the other guy’s hand, and hit my leg, blowing out my knee,” Kautz said.

The Air Force paid for Kautz’s surgery, which was advanced for its time and initially had him up and walking without complications.

“Basically the same operation done on Joe Namath, only they did it on me first,” Kautz said.

The Prince William, Manassas home with the wheel chair accessible ramp.

However, the surgery was not a lasting fix. The doctors tied his muscles together, “to give my knee stability,” Kautz said, but in the process, they took out all the cartilage. “In those days, they didn’t know any better.”

Kautz started to notice a decline in his ability to walk without experiencing pain in 1997. The decline rapidly progressed about four years ago, and Kautz began to increasingly depend on a wheelchair to get around.

“[Walking on the injury] pretty much wiped out my knee. I’d be in a lot of pain,” he said.

The injury eventually left him unable to perform his duties as an electronic technician, and also practically immobile. He upgraded to a Hoveround electronic chair to help him get around more easily in his daily interactions.

“It makes my life a lot more normal than it has been,” Kautz said.

The Hoveround, however, made it even more imperative for his home to be retrofitted for use of a mobile chair. And he still had trouble getting down his front steps, so Kautz knew he needed a ramp.

His wife Lisa Kautz looked for veteran’s grants that could help to have their home retrofit. She also looked for a reputable construction company to do the job. She found S.A. Home Improvement on Home Advisor, where the company has a 4.92 rating derived from numerous reviews.

S.A. Home Improvement was able to offer the Kautzes a sizable discount and tackle a difficult project of a wide ramp that was to be big enough to support his Hoveround chair, offer room to turn around and be a formidable structure.

“We’ve never done a ramp before. We do a lot of decks,” Tony Carter, General Manager of S.A. Home Improvement, said.

Carter said it was important that there be no issues with the ramp. “I’m a veteran myself and that’s one of the reasons I worked very hard to make sure this happened for him. Once you’re in the military, you’re always in the military. It’s one big family.”

Carter said it was something he wanted to do because it would make his dad proud.

The Kautzes, Anibar and Carter stand on the newly built wheelchair ramp.

“My dad was in the Navy; my whole family was military. [I thought] what would my dad say if I didn’t do anything I could to help a veteran?”

Owner Seddik Anibar was also on board for finding any discount his business could pass on to the Kautz family.

“We do have a discount program. When it comes to our veterans, we pass on the discounts,” Anibar said.

S.A. Home Improvement also met the challenge of submitting the paperwork within a matter of days before Kautz’s grant went away at the end of the year. They also made the ramp extra strong and extra wide to fit Kautz’s Hoverground, applying their knowledge of deck design.

“We sat down with the supervisor of the county and found a design that would fit here,” Anibar said.

Now, Kautz said he is very happy with his ramp, saying, “It’s awesome.”

Through the GI Bill, the military is putting him through college at Cappella University to major in business administration. He is working on improving his overall health, and looking towards another knee surgery to correct some of the damage done to his knee in the 1980s.

Thanks to the generosity of the military and private companies, like S.A. Home Improvement, who honor veterans, Kautz can look ahead to a new chapter in his life.

© 2014, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

Facebook Comments
Print Friendly

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Category: Bristow Biz, Community

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

banner ad