Millions of dollars has just been announced to help disabled veterans and service members around the country, including right here in Florida. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald announced today $7.8 million in grants for adaptive sports programs.
The grants will be awarded to 90 national, regional and community programs nationwide. Those awarded grants may use these funds for planning, developing, managing and implementing adaptive sports for eligible veterans and service members of the Armed Forces.
Two community-based programs in Florida were awarded grants. Veterans Ocean Adventures in Cutler Bay is receiving $48.230 for scuba diving.
Did you know that approximately 48 million Americans experience some degree of hearing loss? Communication is central to all aspects of daily living—including health care, socialization, education, and employment—but without the right assistive tools and technology to facilitate that communication, people with hearing loss often encounter significant barriers. Accessible communication technology is integral to removing these barriers and ensuring the best possible quality of life.
Under Title IV of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Americans who experience a hearing and/or speech disability have a right to access telecommunications services that is “functionally equivalent” to those relied upon by consumers without such disabilities. One such available service is Internet Protocol Captioned Telephone Service (IP CTS), or captioned telephone service, which is provided for at no cost to users through a program administered by the Federal Communications Commission.
When a person with hearing loss picks up a captioned telephone (or uses a mobile app offered by an official captioned telephone service provider) to make a call, the call is automatically routed through a call center. Once the call is received in the call center, everything the other party says is accurately captioned either through a combination of advanced automatic speech recognition (ASR) technology and a skilled transcriber, or by ASR technology only. The captions are then sent back to the captioned telephone service user’s phone or app in real-time. It’s a vital service that enables people with hearing loss to easily engage in conversations.
Robert Eugene Richardson, a Vietnam veteran and retired attorney who experiences significant hearing loss, has benefited immensely from access to captioned telephone service. “It was a game changer for me,” he shares. “I used it when I worked at legal jobs outside the courtroom. I use it to communicate with my children, and I use it to communicate with my friends and my doctors and other healthcare providers. I use it to stay engaged in my community. I may be retired from work, but not from life. I am still involved, and the ability to connect with people using the phone is critical to this.”
The Clear2Connect Coalition is dedicated to empowering all people with hearing loss to access the communication tools they need to thrive, just as Mr. Richardson does. Comprised of a range of disability, military, and veteran-serving organizations, our goal is to advocate for protecting the quality and accuracy of captioned telephone services so that anyone who needs them can benefit. We know how important it is for people with hearing loss to be able to connect with the people in the families, networks, and communities. Telephone captioning helps makes this connection happen.
For more information on how to access free captioned telephone service, to learn about Clear2Connect Coalition’s advocacy efforts, and to sign up for their updates, visit the Clear2Connect Coalition website or email them at: email@example.com.
When U.S. Marine veteran James “Shrapnel” Crosby was just 19 years old, he was hit in the back with shrapnel from a rocket attack at Al Asad Airbase in Iraq, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.
As a result, the combat warrior became one of the nation’s most severely wounded soldiers at the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Since then, the Purple Heart recipient has made it his personal mission to help veterans returning to Massachusetts receive the comprehensive services they need. He was instrumental in passing the Crosby-Puller Combat Wounds Compensation Act created, “to require that a member of the uniformed services who is wounded or otherwise injured while serving in a combat zone continue to be paid monthly military pay and allowances, while the member recovers from the wound or injury, at least equal to the monthly military pay and allowances the member received immediately before receiving the wound or injury, to continue the combat zone tax exclusion for the member during the recovery period, and for other purposes.”
Crosby says his goal is simple: “I want to get the truth out about what is happening in the veteran’s community and also in communities in general. I hate differentiating between the two because I don’t believe that we’re two separate communities. I believe that we are just the warriors that signed up to go, but we are all part of the same community. When people say the veteran’s community and then everyone else, it hurts everybody.”
Crosby continued, “Reintegration back into the community as a whole is really important, and not isolating yourself. Unfortunately, veterans can start to become self-loathing because you are not operating at the level that you know you can, so you start to isolate and a lot of times people can’t make it out of that. And that’s where you’ve got guys and girls who commit suicide.”
As a result, the Massachusetts native founded a suicide prevention program known as SAVE (Statewide Advocacy for Veterans’ Empowerment) where, through case management, peer outreach workers visit with veterans, identify their issues and provide them with access to the resources needed to help them get back on track. The SAVE team acts on behalf of the veterans as a liaison between federal and state agencies to proactively assist in transitioning them into civilian life.
“If you start to eliminate problems one by one at a time or maybe three at a time, you start picking people’s problems away, so they might not think that their only option to gain control of their life when they’ve lost control of everything is suicide,” Crosby said. “That’s the mission behind SAVE.”
Last year, Crosby participated in an adaptive training program to help with his paralysis, but he believes his most life altering experience came with the assistance of the Warrior Angels Foundation, a non-profit that provides a personalized treatment protocol that pinpoints and treats the underlying condition for service members and veterans who have sustained a TBI while in the line of duty.
“I was having all these hormone imbalances in my brain,” he said. “They analyze what is out of balance and begin treatment. This needs to be the way that we’re treating traumatic brain injuries now because it’s not only saving people’s lives, but it’s enriching their lives. For me, I couldn’t stay awake because I couldn’t sleep (if that makes any sense) and it was just really bad, but this changed my life. I could think clearer and started getting some of my confidence back. My body started returning to its normal shape. This is what turned my life around. I’ve been on this path of self-betterment lately and just really concentrating on myself and while doing that, everything seems to be falling into place.”
The recipient of Hero Home 23, Marine Staff Sgt. Matthew Polizzi was surprised with the ultimate gift, just in time for Christmas.
Polizzi and his family have been selected to receive a brand new Mattamy home for free through Operation Coming Home.
Polizzi served for fourteen years, deployed four times, and received the Purple Heart from an injury in Afghanistan. Together, Polizzi and his wife have three children, all under the age of 10. For the past 10 years, they have constantly moved, having lived in eight different homes during the time span.
Operation Coming Home has been building Hero Homes since 2008 in Wake County through a partnership with the Home Builders Association of Raleigh and Wake County and the US Veterans Corps.
“Since Operation Coming Home began in 2008, our team has had the privilege to support and contribute to this exceptional cause,” said Bob Wiggins, President of Mattamy’s Raleigh Division. “Operation Coming Home is a project that the Mattamy team in Raleigh is very passionate about. It is an amazing feeling being able to give something as special as a home to individuals who have risked their lives to protect our freedom.”
Mattamy Homes will build Hero Home 23, located in one of the Division’s newest communities, Oak Park in Garner, North Carolina. This is the second home donated by Mattamy Homes and the 10th from the Royal Oaks team, which was acquired by Mattamy Homes in 2017.
“The Polizzi family’s new home will be conveniently located in the desirable area of White Oak,” said Donna Kemp, Vice President of Sales for Mattamy Homes. “We’ve chosen a beautiful home site for the family, and they get to come in and choose all design selections and personalize the home just for them. It’s humbling and extremely rewarding to give back, especially to a deserving veteran and his family. To be able to provide a life changing gift such as a home is an amazing feeling.”
Polizzi and his unit were on a security patrol in Afghanistan in 2010 when they came under heavy enemy fire. Polizzi quickly created and detonated a bomb that saved his entire unit, allowing them to pass only later to come under fire again. Polizzi was shot in the leg. He was treated for five weeks at an airbase, then finished his deployment.
The Polizzi family’s new home is anticipated to begin construction in February 2021 and be ready for move-in during the summer of 2021.
About Operation Coming Home
Operation Coming Home (OCH) is a partnership between members of the Triangle Veterans Association (TVA) and the Home Builders Association of Raleigh/Wake County. Made up of Veterans and non-Veterans, this team is honoring the sacrifices of the severely wounded Veterans of recent Middle Eastern Wars by building custom homes for them, at no charge.
About Mattamy Homes
Mattamy Homes is the largest privately owned homebuilder in North America, with 40-plus years of history across the United States and Canada. Every year, Mattamy helps more than 8,000 families realize their dream of home ownership. In the United States, the company is represented in 11 markets – Dallas, Charlotte, Raleigh, Phoenix, Tucson, Jacksonville, Orlando (where its US head office is located), Tampa, Sarasota, Naples and Southeast Florida – and in Canada, its communities stretch across the Greater Toronto Area, as well as in Ottawa, Calgary and Edmonton. Visit www.mattamyhomes.com for more information.
Retired Navy SEAL Lieutenant Jason Redman certainly knows a thing or two about what it takes to be a true leader and overcome adversity.
After all, the Ohio native and author of “The Trident” and “Overcome,” is the recipient of numerous prestigious military awards, including the Bronze Star Medal with Valor, Purple Heart, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Navy Achievement Medal (five awards), Combat Action Ribbon (two awards) and US Army Ranger Tab.
On September 13, 2007, during a special ops mission as Assault Force Commander to capture an Al Qaeda High Value Individual, Redman’s Assault Team came under heavy fire. Despite being shot several times, including once in the face, he and his team fought valiantly to do what he does best—overcome.
“I wouldn’t have made it through SEAL training if I didn’t have some level of mindset that I could overcome adversity, but it really got tested several years prior to getting shot,” Redman said. “It was through leadership failure and having to push forward despite a whole lot of people not believing in me and, as a matter of fact, being resentful that I just didn’t leave. That, by far, was the longest and hardest road I have ever fought—much harder than my injuries.
“Having climbed out of that hole and built back my professional leadership and tactical reputation over the last several years, both in training and in combat, put me in a position that when I was wounded, don’t get me wrong it sucked, but I was like, you have climbed out of worse holes so this is no different.”
Redman said, “The number one lesson in leadership is you have to lead yourself. You have to set the example. You have to pull forward. The great news is that when you do that consistently over time, people will follow you.”
When writing that now infamous orange sign he hung on his hospital door, it served as a reminder to him and others to come forward with a positive attitude. “I wrote it as a little bit of a warning to people coming into my room that I wasn’t going to tolerate sorrow,” he said. “It’s hard enough to stay positive when times are really hard and it makes it obviously that much harder if you are surrounded by other people that are going to pull you down and inject a bunch of negativity into a hard situation.
“I said, I am going to set the bar and forward focus, and if you can’t handle that, then I don’t want you to come in here. There’s a flip side to that coin that I’ll be honest I don’t think I put a lot of thought into but it set the bar for myself. It gave me a benchmark, setting a destination and a course that I have followed and sometimes it was hard,” Redman said. “Don’t get me wrong, I had a lot of hard days when I was having setbacks, when I was having infections, when I was having problems, and to be like, man I don’t want to be motivated. I want to sit on the X and feel sorry for myself. But I was like, you can’t do that, look at your sign. I think that’s important in life when you say, this is what I am going to do and when you put it out there to the world, you set a level of expectation not only for yourself, but for other people.”
What advice does Redman have for a veteran who may be struggling in civilian life? “You have to believe the power resides in you,” he said. “It’s not going to be easy. I know I struggled a lot with post-traumatic stress and anxiety after my injuries and I hit a really low point a few years after I came home and was spiraling down.
“My wife is amazing. I had always taken for granted that she would always be there, but she kind of hit me with, hey, this is not working for me and our family. So, that’s when I went and got help. At the end of the day, to the veterans out there, you have to be proactive,” Redman explained. “Sometimes you need to recognize that you need to reach out and get somebody to help you. I am not afraid to reach out when I need to. But, you, the individual on that X, have to take the first step to get off it and recognize it may take several times to make progress. Just recognize those initial first tries are going to be the hardest, but if you continue and you grind and you have the discipline to keep pushing for that change, you will make momentum.”
Image Credit: Michelle Quilon – 3’s a Charm Photography
Imagine joining the military in the hopes of playing soccer for your country to only end up fighting your own battle to survive a sudden, terminal illness. Out of the 17.4 million veterans in the U.S., almost 3% of them experience a cancer diagnosis annually.
A vibrant, fit 24 year old in perfect health, Brandi L. Benson faced an unexpected type of war that required the weapons of faith, hope, and strength. Fresh out of basic training and only three months in one of the most dangerous countries in the world, an aeroplane ride to a hospital in Germany ironically propelled her toward an internal battle that left her reeling in shock: Ewing Sarcoma, a rare form of cancer that affects only 12,000 people.
Brandi was told she would need to have her leg amputated, which would crush her dreams of being a world class athlete for the Army. She was placed in a ward with 12 people who had different forms of cancer and she was the only one to survive.
“I fought hard to overcome my diagnosis,” says Brandi. “I was determined not to become a victim to statistics.”
Brandi dealt with feelings of hopelessness due to outdated treatment methods, spirals of negative thinking, self blame and denial. She pushed her way through by journaling her experience for her then two year old nephew to have memories to hold onto. Beating the odds of the 6,000 who will die and the 3,000 who will not live to the five-year mark from this illness, she embraced her new identity as a disfigured and disabled veteran, cancer survivor and now author.
Brandi turned her journal into a book, “The Enemy Inside Me,” a story of inspiration for survivors of life’s battles. Her mission is to provide an effective blueprint of strategies and resources that survivors, their loved ones and anyone struggling with “an enemy” in whatever form, can use to improve their overall wellbeing.
About Brandi L. Benson
Brandi L. Benson is a 36-year-old veteran, speaker, author and cancer advocate based in Miami, FL (from Novato, Calif.). Joining the military in hopes of playing soccer for her country, she ended up with her own battle. Fresh out of basic training and only three months stationed in Iraq, she was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, Ewing Sarcoma, at age 24. Walking away with one less muscle in her left leg, she triumphantly defied odds. Brandi has written magazine blogs for Conquer Magazine, Cancer Wellness Magazine,American Cancer Society and more sharing her story. She is spokesperson for Bristol Myers Squibb alongside ABC’s This is Us Sterling K. Brown, has signed a modeling contract with HOP Models & Talent Agency and is the author of The Enemy Inside Me, available on Amazon. For more information, visit https://brandilbenson.com/.
Eight years ago, Travis Mills’ life was forever changed when he became one of only five servicemen from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan ever to survive his injuries as a quadruple amputee.
Retired United States Army Staff Sergeant Travis Mills of the 82nd Airborne was critically wounded in action on April 10, 2012 by an IED on his third deployment in Afghanistan, but with a positive attitude, he refuses to let his injuries define him.
“In the beginning it was a little difficult not being able to look in the mirror for six months” he told us. “There were times when you wonder why this happened and how can you go back in time. After a while, you just realize that it’s never going to change so you might as well make the best of it.”
Mills said he had wonderful doctors, nurses, and medical staff as well as therapists (occupational, physical, driving rehab) that would get him back on his feet. His wife and his daughter were right there with him, literally every step of the way.
“I learned to walk with my daughter as she was learning how to walk,” he said. “Once you peel back the layers and realize this is the rest of your life, stop dwelling on it, get moving and reminisce about what you had, life gets a lot easier.”
Mills said the mental part was the toughest, and that he struggled with the ‘why?”
“Am I a bad person? Why didn’t I just die? Things like that go through your head,” he said. “I realized for the first five weeks of my injuries that I had to have someone feed me, have someone help me change my clothes, help me use the restroom, things that you wouldn’t think of. It’s like being an adult baby that can’t do anything for themselves. It has taught me patience.”
Today, the motivational speaker, actor, author and advocate for veterans and amputees whose motto “never give up; never quit” continues to inspire everyone he meets, while living “a pretty normal, hectic, crazy all-American dream life” with his wife, Kelsey, and two children.
Mills and his wife founded the Travis Mills Foundation to assist post 9/11 veterans who have been injured in active duty or as a result of their service to our nation. Through the foundation, they have created a Veterans Retreat where veterans and their families receive an all-inclusive, all-expenses paid vacation to Maine to participate in adaptive activities.
“The original vision in creating the foundation was just care packages overseas, because I would see a lot of guys who wouldn’t get care packages,” he said. “I thought, ‘let’s just send them peanut butter M&Ms, beef jerky that’s peppered, of course, because that’s the delicious one, and a few other items.’ So, we started with that idea.”
Then Mills, who could still go kayaking, canoeing, horseback riding and snowboarding, would take these trips with his wife and enjoyed them so much, it sparked his next idea. “I thought how great it would be to bring people out and show them they can do things adaptively with their family?” he said. “It just kind of progressed to a small camp in the woods with little cabins to this huge facility. We don’t even say camp anymore because it’s more of a retreat at a huge estate (the former Elizabeth Arden Estate). We have been able to expand greatly.”
Mills’ advice for veterans who may be struggling with injuries suffered during combat? “I just tell people never be too strong to reach out for help, and understand there are ways to get over post-traumatic stress. And if they are physically injured, every day is a step in the right direction,” he said. “I am always so grateful and thankful when I think about what could have happened. I lost some really, really close friends of mine, and their families would give anything to have them back—their children, parents, spouses, their siblings and friends would give anything. So, when I think about it in that aspect, I know I was given a chance to live, move forward and make the most of every day.”
Seven years ago, Coast Guard veteran and PVA member Kaleb Wilson took a $100 bet that changed his life.
Some friends dared him to jump off a pier. He was 22 years old, and he figured he’d do it—it’s $100, right?
So, he dove in headfirst and hit the bottom, shattering several vertebrae. Instead of celebrating his win with friends, he found himself in a New Orleans Trauma Center, paralyzed.
With his sweetheart Brittany by his side, he fought tooth and nail with one goal in mind: He wanted to walk down the aisle on their wedding day. She had been there for him during his recovery and rehab, and now he made it his mission to be there for her, standing across from her at the altar, and dancing at their wedding. With a lot of love, support, and hard work, he made it happen.
Wilson had been interested in joining the military ever since he was a little boy. He was a swimmer in high school, and started looking into programs with the Navy and the Air Force. But it was the Coast Guard that caught his attention. He was drawn to rescue swimming. “I knew it was where I needed to be,” he says.
He was a part of the Coast Guard for three years. After he graduated from boot camp he was assigned to a station in New Orleans, where he worked doing search and rescue missions, intercepting drug shipments, escorting vessels into the Gulf, and patrolling rivers and lakes. He loved his job, and he enjoyed the culture in New Orleans. He was a young man enjoying his career, living in a lively city, in love with a beautiful girl. Wilson was on the list to go to “A” school in November of 2012 when he took that fateful dare that landed him in a wheelchair.
A New Normal
Becoming paralyzed presents a whole host of challenges, of course, not just for the injured, but for those closest to them. Wilson and Brittany had to work together with trust and focus in order to adjust to their new normal. They relied on each other, and became stronger together. He proposed in 2013; they married in 2014, both of them standing for the ceremony.
They also relied on Paralyzed Veterans of America. During rehab and recovery, PVA helped Wilson with benefits information, and later on, with vocational rehab benefits allowing him to return to school to pursue a chemical engineering degree. A couple of years ago, Wilson competed in the National Veterans Wheelchair Games in swimming, and was inspired to join the Mountain State chapter of PVA, serving on the Board and as Treasurer.
He has attended two Games so far, most recently in Louisville, where he brought home seven medals in swimming, rugby, and field events. “It’s nice to be around people who are in a similar situation as I am, who understand what you are going through,” he says. “Brittany loves it, too, because she gets to socialize with other wives who know what we’re dealing with, and we get to come together with friends who live around the country.”
He and Brittany are in the process of moving to Illinois, where he will transfer his membership to the Vaughn chapter of PVA and do some volunteering for fellow veteran Noah Currier with his Oscar Mike Foundation.
“It’s not just money that keeps these programs running, it’s volunteers, too. I don’t want to be somebody who just takes, takes, takes. I want to give back.”
Today, Wilson is a loving and happy husband, and delighted father of two little girls, with a third child on the way. He is also a proud veteran of the United States Coast Guard.
“Seven years ago, I sustained my injury that ended my time actively serving in the Coast Guard, but that did not take away the fact that I still am a Coastie. I still feel at home around my fellow Coasties; I still feel connected in the way I always have. I may not serve beside them anymore, but I will always be a part of them!”
When Jeff and Maura Brodeur received the devastating call that would change their life forever— that their only son had been critically injured in Iraq and may not make it—they never could have imagined how far he would come today.
U.S. Army Private Vincent Mannion-Brodeur was just 19 when he was deployed to Iraq where he served as a Parachute Infantryman in the B-2-505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division and Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, Honor Guard.
On March 11, 2007, the Massachusetts native was checking a house for insurgents when an improvised explosive device detonated, killing his sergeant and leaving him with deep shrapnel wounds that ravaged his upper torso. In addition, his left arm was nearly blown off and he sustained a traumatic brain injury that required the removal of his cranium and part of his frontal lobe.
As a courageous recipient of the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, Vincent, who retired as a corporal, became the inspiration behind Boston’s Wounded Vet Run, a motorcycle run that honors wounded veterans of New England.
“Ten years ago, Vincent was the first recipient of the Boston Wounded Vet Run, which was used to supplement a VA Special Adaptive Housing Grant he earned that took two years of paperwork to complete,” said Jeff Brodeur, Vincent’s father and an Army veteran himself, adding that Vincent will be honored once again this year at the tenth annual Boston’s Wounded Vet Run being held in September.
“He was in a wheelchair at the time so we used that money to put in new stairs and a new walkway. We used the funds raised to make modifications for accessibility to the outside of our home. It’s really nice to have him being honored again on the run 10 years later because it all started with Vincent and Andy (Biggio) who is the founder.”
Since Boston’s initial event a decade ago, the motorcycle runs have increased in popularity, now becoming available in major cities nationwide raising money to provide assistance to severely wounded veterans like Vincent to improve their quality of life. All proceeds from the runs go directly to veterans to assist with housing modifications or mobility and transportation needs, including wheelchairs and cars, along with other basic requirements.
After surviving a yearlong coma, lengthy hospital stays, 47 surgeries and years of rehabilitation to relearn the simplest of tasks—from walking and talking to eating and showering—Vincent and his family have become an inspiration. Overcoming all odds after being told he might never be able to walk or talk again, Vincent, who can often be found smiling, saying, “God bless America,” still faces lifelong daily challenges but that hasn’t broken his fun-loving spirit.
His parents, who are both veterans, fought successfully to become the first on the East Coast—and one of the first families in the nation—to have their son transferred to a private medical facility to continue his care, paving the way for many other wounded soldiers.
The Veterans Administration initially wanted to transfer Vincent to its Tampa trauma facility but his parents were concerned over the level of care he would receive. “Boston has some of the best hospitals in the nation and we won approval for Vincent to receive private care for his severe TBI at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital instead of having to go to a Veterans Administration facility,” said Jeff, an Army veteran and also the National President of the Korean War Veteran’s Association. “The polytrauma hospitals back then didn’t offer the specialized care that we knew Boston could provide.”
Their steadfast determination in finding the best care and rehabilitation for their son paved the way for the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010, authorizing the Veterans Administration to, “establish a wide range of new services to support certain caregivers of eligible Post 9/11 Veterans.” The additional benefits offered to families of veterans now include a monthly stipend, health care coverage, and travel expenses (including lodging and per diem) while accompanying veterans undergoing care, respite care and mental health services and counseling.
The Gary Sinise Foundation was established under the philanthropic direction of actor Gary Sinise, who has been an advocate of our nation’s defenders for nearly forty years.
The mission of the foundation is to serve our nation by honoring our defenders, veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need. One of the Gary Sinise Foundation’s flagship programs is R.I.S.E. (Restoring Independence Supporting Empowerment), which builds specially adapted smart homes for our most severely wounded heroes.
U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 5 Gary Linfoot and his wife, Mari, became the recipient of one of these new smart homes at a dedication ceremony.
Linfoot, a Los Angeles native, initially enlisted in the Army Reserve after graduating high school in the hopes of becoming a helicopter pilot. After attending Flight School and graduating a Warrant Officer in 1990, Linfoot joined the Army’s elite 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) (SOAR(A)) in 1997.
On May 31, 2008, while conducting operations in Iraq, Linfoot’s helicopter suffered a catastrophic mechanical failure. The helicopter crash-landed, injuring Linfoot severely. Medics evacuated him to Germany for a spine stabilization surgery, and treatment took him from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to the Tampa VA Hospital, and finally the Shepherd Center in GA. His broken back paralyzed Linfoot from the waist down.
Gary and his wife Mari have raised three children over their twenty-six-year marriage. As with every other challenge they have confronted, they fight to overcome Gary’s disability together and have had remarkable success. Wearing an exoskeleton suit, Gary walked his oldest daughter Allyssa down the aisle on her wedding day in 2016, and he currently works as a helicopter simulator instructor pilot with the 160th SOAR(A) at Fort Campbell, KY.
Gary Sinise sent the following message to Linfoot that was delivered at the ceremony:
“You are an inspiration my friend. What an incredible journey you have had. Seeing the video of you walking your daughter down the aisle in the amazing exoskeleton brought tears to my eyes. I am thrilled that you are finally here today, about to begin this brand-new chapter in your life. … I will look forward to a time in the future when I can come visit, take a tour of your new home, and personally thank you, Mari and your three children, Allyssa, Kylie and Hayden, once again for all you have sacrificed on behalf of this nation.”
“On behalf of everyone at the Gary Sinise Foundation, welcome home Linfoot family. Enjoy this wonderful day. May God bless you always, and may God Bless the United States of America you have so faithfully served. Army Strong! Your ‘Grateful American’ pal, Gary Sinise.”
R.I.S.E. constructs one-of-a-kind houses all across the country, specifically designed to meet the needs of a wounded hero, their caregivers and families, and provide a place to truly call home. These 100% mortgage-free homes ease the daily challenges faced by these heroes and their families who sacrifice alongside them.