SENECA, S.C. (WSPA) – Life after the service presents many challenges to veterans. For some, it’s the physical ones that can keep them confined.
In the Upstate, one group is working to make sure that accessibility is never an issue and for Navy veteran Joseph Lacombe, it no longer is.
Joseph Lacombe spent 21 years in the United States Navy serving our country.
“My first duty station was USS Cavalier APA-37, I believe,” Lacombe told 7NEWS. “And we made a cruise to Vietnam.”
He said he joined the service to see the world.
“I did enjoy my time there. I learned a lot,” Lacombe explained. “A lot of different cultures, a lot of different people. I got to see Monticello. We got to go to Sydney and Paris.”
Lacombe retired from the Navy in 1985.
A little over a year ago he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.
At the age of 77, it became hard for Lacombe to get around the house.
“My daughter and I were looking far ahead and she found these people who build the ramps,” Lacombe said.
Those people, Lacombe is referring to are fellow, local veterans.
“The ramp was one of the best things we found,” Lacombe added.
“There are some veterans that we’ve helped that haven’t been able to leave their home in months just because they didn’t have good accessibility to get in and out of their homes,” Adam Leroy, Operations Coordinator at BASF, said.
BASF is a chemical company in Seneca.
Adam Leroy is the Operations Coordinator there and one of the veterans who helped build Lacombe’s ramp.
Many of the employees at BASF are veterans.
Leroy said through the company’s commitment to the community, they formed the BASF Seneca Vets Team as a way to give back to other veterans.
“When we walk away and they’re so tickled that they’re even able to help themselves with what we’ve done for them,” Leroy explained. “You can’t change that feeling for nothing in the world.”
The company’s partnership with Purple Heart Homes is how the two got connected.
“Our mission is to remodel homes for Veterans with disabilities so that they can live continue to live in their homes comfortably, make the homes accessible and safe,” President for PHH, Larry Druffel, said.
Druffel is also a veteran.
“It’s it’s gratifying to see somebody who couldn’t get in and out of his home or her, her home… And suddenly things open up,” he told 7NEWS.
But he acknowledges it’s not always easy for veterans to reach out.
“I have been extremely fortunate. I got my daughter, my granddaughter here. They have been a backbone. I know there are veterans out there who don’t have that type of support,” Lacombe said. “If you can really get Veterans and find the ones that are without close relatives or somebody nearby that can help them get somebody for them. They could really use it.”
Adding that reaching out can make all the difference.
Joseph Lacombe, Adam Leroy and Larry Druffel, thank you for your service.
If you know of a veteran in need of help, click here for resources.
If you are a veteran wanting to share your story, click here.