By M. Scott Morris
TUPELO – The injuries that Mitch Beard experienced during his days in the Marine Corps haven’t always bothered him.
“It was a combination of things,” the 56-year-old Tupelo resident said. “When I was in the military, I jumped out of helicopters, jumped off tanks, jumped off trucks.”
The wear and tear from the 1970s has slowly gotten worse over the decades. The Veterans Administration refers to it as “aging in place.”
“I’ve had two total knee replacements, and I have other health issues,” he said.
Purple Heart Homes can’t help with his health, but it is helping with his mobility. The nonprofit agency founded by Gulf War veterans is providing more than $26,000 to make Beard’s home wheelchair accessible.
The house in east Tupelo is in a state of controlled chaos at the moment, as new floors are installed, doors are widened and bathroom sinks are lowered. Beard expects the work to be complete by mid-January.
“I’m pretty much using a walker or a cane or a wheelchair all the time,” he said. “It’s just hard to get around.”
Beard contacted Purple Heart Homes in March and filled out an application. The organization researched his background and made sure he was honorably discharged. He was approved by May.
The agency never had sponsored a renovation for a home in Mississippi. Beard said he was told his will be the first of five in the state.
Tupelo resident Scott Burns, a disabled veteran, has camped out at The Mall at Barnes Crossing Food Court for the past seven years to raise money for Purple Heart Homes. That resulted in $43,000 in donations.
“I feel like he basically raised the money for the work on my house,” Beard said.
To donate money or apply for assistance, visit www.phhusa.org.