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Vietnam Veteran Receives Organized Spaces as Co's Community Service in Time for Fourth of July

Vietnam Veteran Receives Organized Spaces as Co's Community Service in Time for Fourth of July
Philadelphia, PA, June 18, 2013 --( A Philadelphia business philanthropist is marking the 4th of July holiday by aiding a Vietnam, Purple Heart infantry man, who is a paraplegic.

Charles Waterman, the owner of ClosetsByDesign, an area custom closet company, had a vision to do something to help good causes that would be more personal than just buying charity tickets.

He consulted with a communications firm, ACT, Inc., and they suggested: Track down a wounded veteran who could benefit from having Waterman's company donate and install custom storage spaces easily used by a paraplegic in a wheelchair.

An aide in the office of former U.S. Senator Arlen Specter, Vern Rider recommended Jim McGuire, a 66-year-old resident of Northeast Philadelphia and a veteran of Vietnam.

He was a perfect candidate for a custom closet installation donation.

Combat Infantry

A former combat infantry man, he served with the First Calvary in Vietnam and was a veteran of close combat, and a Purple Heart recipient for wounds that eventually led to a life as a paraplegic.

McGuire and his wife of 41 years, Lorraine, welcomed Waterman and his designer, Cay Evans, into their home. The wooden ramp which zigzags up to their front door dramatizes that someone with a disability lives inside and gives wheelchair accessibility into the home.

But closets are another matter, and Waterman has the expertise to install custom systems designed for someone confined to a wheelchair.

They pulled out a tape measure and began measuring McGuire's arm-span when he reached as high as he could, and his sitting height while sitting in his wheelchair.

Waterman and his designer then took inventory of Jim's bedroom closet but they also asked questions about other spaces throughout the home.

Other Needs Fulfilled

With those measurements, they discovered several other areas in need of better access for Jim.

His computer area caused him difficulty.

The height of his current desk did not accommodate Jim's wheel chair.

This meant that each time he wanted to sit at his desk he had to move himself from his wheel chair and sit in a regular desk chair.

Also, his standard bureau had drawers too high to see into while sitting.

Finally, the hall closet was in need of a better way to keep Jim's medicine within easy reach.

ClosetsByDesign makes it a point to coordinate the color of the furniture in the room where the closet is to be installed. They describe the finished product as "furniture for your closet."

The firm has 8 years of experience in building custom closets, home offices, pantries, laundries, garages, and hobby rooms.

Located in Exton, Pa. the company serves clients in the Northeast Pennsylvania and Delaware areas.

Vietnam Experiences

In between discussions and selections on sliding racks and shelves, McGuire told ClosetsByDesign personnel stories about his experiences in Vietnam.

He was drafted into the army and sent to Vietnam in 1967, at the height of the Tet Offensive. (Probably the worst of the fighting in Vietnam.)

McGuire and two of his buddies were separated from their unit. They were ambushed. The Viet Cong were firing at them constantly.

One of his platoon members was killed instantly when he stuck his head up to see where in coming fire was originating.

A second buddy was also wounded.

McGuire held him in his arms as he died, not even realizing that he, himself, had been shot in the leg.

McGuire later received a Purple Heart.

Forty years after, McGuire started attending group sessions for PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder.

Police Dispatcher

After military hospitals, and a return to Philadelphia, McGuire saw a newspaper ad for Vietnam veterans for a police radio dispatcher. He was hired, and served for 16 years.

Then, he transferred to the Philadelphia prison system and worked at Holmesburg for ten years.

He has since retired.

McGuire and his wife have two sons who are firefighters, one in New York and one in Middletown. The son in New York was trapped in one of the towers on 9/11, got out, continued to look for others trapped, and was on the team that rescued a man.

He is a hero.

Waterman says he welcomed this opportunity as a "Thank You" to McGuire for his service to our country. Jim and Lorraine told Waterman they are in awe that someone would do this for them.

ClosetsByDesign can be reached at 1-888-500-9205 (
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ACT, Inc.
Joe Ball

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