Sunday, March 25, 2012

More Low Down on 62

We finally finished our inprocessing.  27 signatures, plus paperwork, interviews, meetings.  It was intense, but we finished early.  It took us 12 days, and we were given 30.  Had to get it done and off our plate so we could move on.  Move on to Battle Company, regular appointments, new adventures.
The inprocessing is different for the different services.  I was told that the Marines do not need signatures, but they have a page load of appointments.  I was also told by a Marine wife that she was told she and her children do not matter... it is all about her husband.  Krystina and I were given quite different treatment.  We were told that we matter, and if we need anything at all, we just need to ask.

On the Army side, once the inprocessing is done, you are turned over to your new platoon - either Able or Battle.  Then the fun begins.  The guys are expected to attend formation three times a week.  However, if they have an appointment, that takes precedence.  If the formation is mandatory, they will be told to change their appointments.

What is 62 like?  It's a real nice two bedroom apartment, but it has its limitations.  I previously posted pictures, a description of the apartment, and the contents of the kitchen, to assist anyone moving over here as to what they need to supply, the space available, etc.  Now I will address the difficulties we have experienced.  If just one of these make it to the higher-ups who can make changes, we will be happy.

The grade of the driveway leading to 62 is quite steep.  Electric wheelchairs handle is easily, but manual and power assist do not.  I guess it's a good workout for them to work those arm muscles pushing themselves up the steep hill, but going down..... guys have fallen.  I am concerned that they will be going too fast and will not be able to stop themselves before they reach the road.

The walkway to the wounded warrior parking lot is also a problem, but that is scheduled to be fixed within the next week or two.

The parking lot is small and not easy to maneuver.  Each lane ends with more parked cars, and it is too small to K-turn, so you must back out of the aisle.  Wounded warriors are given a blue hanging tag in order to park in the lot, but spaces are limited.  Anyone without a blue tag gets a $40 parking ticket.  The first time I went to Pass and ID to get the parking permit for the van I was given a yellow one.  I asked a cop who was driving through if it was a problem, and he recommended I park in the America Lot until the next day when I could get the right tag.

The apartment itself also has limitations. 

 - Bathroom.  The shower leaks and there is no vent.  The basin is not angled so that the water runs into the drain.  I guess to make it more stable for the guys.  The result?  A very wet bathroom floor, pooled water in the corners of the shower, and trapped steam.  This causes mold to grow, so cleaning is essential.  The shower head also does not stay up and points straight at the wall.  I used twist ties to hold mine up, but that is not an option for Derek and Krystina.  Derek needs to be able to take down the head to wash himself.

 - Front door.  The door is a safety concern.  It is heavy and not easy for the guys in wheelchairs to open.  There is no "peek hole" and no safety chain, so you have to open the door to see who is there if they do not answer when you ask, and once the door is open, anyone could push right in.  The front desk is supposed to refuse to give out the room number to anyone who asks.  The proper procedure is they call on the phone and ask if you want to see the person.  Then, it is our choice whether the person comes up, we go down, or the person is asked to leave.  This was tested a short time ago when someone came who we did not know.  They sent him up even when Krystina said, "No, thank you."  I pitched a fit, and it will not happen again.  It better not.  There are certain people we do not want to visit.

 - Beds.  Another difficulty in the room is the beds.  They are too soft, and as a result, they have given Derek a terrible back pain.  I sleep on the floor, because I have an injured back to begin with, but that is not an option for Derek.  Operation Homefront had some donated tempurpedic style beds, so Derek was able to get a new bed.  It is helping so much.  A hurting back was impacting on his ability to function and get to therapy.

 - Keys.  Some of the apartments have difficulty with their keys.  Some do not.  Some of the apartments the keys expire every month or so.  We had to have our door reprogrammed yesterday because after getting the keys rescanned twice, they still didn't work!

 - Fire.  The elevators stop working in the event of a fire.  We are on the 4th floor.  Derek cannot do stairs.  They assure us that in the event of a fire, fire doors close to trap the flames in one area, and then the fire department comes to the individual rooms and help those who are not able to do the stairs.  Doesn't make me feel better.  What if the fire is in the room next door?   Or this apartment?

 - Warrior Cafe.  The food is ... okay.  It's not the best.  It is expensive.  The guys have meal cards so they can eat for free, but if we are not with him, it costs. 

When the building was built, families and wounded warriors were asked what they needed.  Simple things like bathroom vent, showers that drain, peek holes and comfortable beds should have been provided without menion.

Nothing comes without challenges and difficulties.

On the plus side....

 - The rooms are spacious enough for a wheelchair to maneuver. 

 - The closets are large and accessible. 

 - The bathrooms have enough space for the wheelchair and the guys to move around. 

 - The kitchen is functional, so meals can be prepared and the Warrior Cafe avoided. 

 - The Warrior Cafe does have a pretty good variety most days, with vegan and vegetarian options.  The other day everything had cheese but the salad, so I was out of luck, but most days there is a better variety.  It may have been limited due to the drill they had on base that limited access for over a day.

 - There are pull cords in case of an emergency.  The call goes to the duty desk downstairs and someone will respond.  There is a cord in each bathroom and two in the living room.  The ones in the bedrooms are hidden behind curtains.

Overall, the apartment is comfortable.  Of course there are pluses and minuses.... positives and negatives.  That's life.

The good thing is that life continues.  Whatever obstacles we face, we eventually overcome.  Everything is temporary.  We can do this.

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