Point of View

Building homes of freedom for NC's wounded war veterans

September 6, 2013 

The lives of two triple amputee veterans from North Carolina will be a lot easier, thanks to the generous efforts of nonprofit groups raising money to build “Smart Homes” for the wounded veterans.

Smart Homes are specifically adapted for severely wounded veterans provided through Building for America’s Brave program. The Gary Sinise Foundation and the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation chose Army Master Sgt. John Masson and Marine Staff Sgt John McRae of North Carolina as recipients of the homes and are leading fundraising efforts get them built. Masson, father of three, lives in Fayetteville. McRae lives in Pender County.

The groups are organizing a kickoff fundraising concert by the Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band in Fayetteville on Sept. 13. In addition to raising money for the Smart Homes, organizers want to increase awareness and community support for these soldiers who suffered catastrophic losses in the line of duty.

By the end of this year, the BFAB group will have finished or broken ground on 23 Smart Homes for veterans across the country.

Before starting as a prosthetist at Ability Prosthetics & Orthotics in Raleigh, I worked extensively with wounded veterans through the Veterans Administration in Pittsburgh. I saw firsthand the physical and emotional damage that these brave soldiers experienced, many after serving multiple tours.

Those I worked with had lost limbs, and many were coupled with traumatic brain injuries, making it difficult for them to communicate effectively about the problems they were having adapting to coming home to civilian life and coming home without arms or legs or both.

Taking care of these wounded warriors, who gave so much in service for our country, is the least we can do. Many of my family members served or are serving in the military. My grandfather served in the Army during WWII. Both my father and uncle were U.S. Marines; my uncle became blinded by shrapnel in Vietnam. My brother and cousin are both in the Army Rangers.

My brother has lost close buddies, and that takes a toll. Seeing him go through that, the plight of these warriors hits me even harder and makes me determined to see them get what they need to help them rebuild their lives.

Smart Homes are an incredible help. They give these veterans the freedom to maneuver everyday life. From motorized cabinets and countertops that can be lowered to the ability to control heating and air conditioning via an iPad to widened hallways and other features, each home is custom-built to each recipient’s needs.

These veterans should not have to worry about struggling with the functions of every day life because they have enough to struggle with already.

We are dedicated to reaching out and helping these soldiers. They put their lives on the line for us. We should be doing everything we can to help them regain as much normalcy and joy in their lives as possible.

Chris Baughman of Raleigh is a prosthetist at Ability Prosthetics & Orthotics.

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