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      Local veteran gets a helping hand

      It's always nice to improve the landscape of your yard. It might up the resale value, maybe make your neighbors happy, or just keep you satisfied with your home.

      For one Hannibal man, it's a potential life saver.

      "Here. I can't see nothing at all. And with this one, I can't see hardly at all," Jackie Stanton said.

      Jackie Stanton is legally blind. He's also a Vietnam Veteran. In fact, his sight and hearing began to go after his second tour of duty. Then in 2009, while working in Atlanta, Georgia for the Veterans Affairs, he suffered a massive stroke and lost most of his ability to talk.

      "He's a very independent person," his sister Shirley Allison said.

      And that's the way he likes it. Ever since moving back to Hannibal after his stroke to be near family, Jackie has lived by himself.

      "It's just with cooking and transportation, cleaning, and things like that, he needs help with," Allison explained.

      Another thing Jackie needed help with was getting off his front porch and being able to walk down his front steps. That's where the Northeast Independent Living Services organization stepped in. It helped Jackie apply for some money to get a railing built.

      "At first we tried for a ramp, but he's not in a wheelchair, so you can't do that," Gene Suddarth with NEILS said.

      So, the group decided to go for the railing instead.

      "In very damp, wet, slick, or rainy weather, those railings give him something to hold onto and be able to steady himself," Suddarth said.

      "I don't have to worry about him falling. I know he can get in and out of the house," Allison said.

      It took several months to get the money and just two days to build it. Local contractor James Godert was the low bid. Godert himself is a veteran, and was pleased he got to be part of the project.

      "Being able to stay out in your own home is definitely better than being cooped up in an institution somewhere," Godert said.

      Stanton and his family have other ideas, too.

      Some of the lower steps on his property are falling apart.

      The family would like to get those steps fixed and paint the steps with reflective tape so they are easier for Jackie to see.