Ramp helps keep Iola vet on the move



March 1, 2018 - 12:00 AM

Mobility, at any age, is vital.
Take Earl Bell, a retired pastor, who has remained active well into his golden years.
But as he’s aged, getting around isn’t as easy as it used to be.
The ability to walk to his car, for example, had become increasingly difficult in recent years for the 89-year-old Korean War veteran.
An old wheelchair ramp helped, but was rather narrow and steep.
“It’s a wonder I never fell off,” he joked.
Bell lamented such matters to his physical therapist recently at Allen County Regional Hospital.
“They told me, ‘You’re a veteran aren’t you? Do something about it,’” Bell recounted.
Chagrined, Bell telephoned the Veterans Administration office.
Within a few days, he was in Topeka, meeting with a panel to hear his request.
The successful appeal led to Tuesday, in which a crew was on hand to install a new, aluminum ramp that fills much of Bell’s back yard.
“Just like that, and it’s here,” Bell said. “That’s what I got for walking on frozen ice paddies in Korea.”
The ramp is actually the second such mobility tool the VA has provided Bell in recent weeks.
About a month ago, the organization learned that Bell’s walker had been broken for several years, and that he was relying on a spare he bought at a garage sale.
“They knew I was in pretty bad shape, so they replaced that, too,” he said.
Up until a few years ago, Bell also kept busy as a painter.
About the only drawback to the sprawling ramp is now Bell needs to find space for one of his cars.
“I can’t park it behind my house anymore,” he said with a chuckle.
He doesn’t dare get rid of it. The car is equipped with a hitch so he can tote a trailer filled garden supplies or other equipment to and fro, he explained.
Bell is grateful for the assistance the VA provided. “They acted quickly.”


PHOTO: Iolan Earl Bell shows off a new wheelchair ramp installed this week behind his house, paid for by the Veterans Administration, and a new walker the VA provided for him earlier this year. REGISTER/RICHARD LUKEN