Bringing Veterans Home for the New Year with Homes for Our Troops

Since 2014, Budget Blinds® has been the official window coverings supplier for Homes for Our Troops (HFOT), a privately-funded, nonprofit organization that builds mortgage-free, specially adapted custom homes for severely injured post-9/11 Veterans. With our manufacturing partner, Springs Window Fashions® who graciously donates the blinds, Budget Blinds has participated in 83 home builds to date, including the 250th HFOT home that was awarded this January to SGT Cristian Valle, whose story is below.

Veterans who receive these homes have sustained catastrophic injuries including multiple limb amputations, partial or full paralysis, hearing and vision loss, severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The homes restore some of the freedom and independence lost while defending our country, and enable the Veterans to focus on family, recovery, and rebuilding their lives.

Our franchise owners are the crucial link

Every HFOT home receives custom faux wood blinds from our Signature Series® collection on all doors and

Faux wood blinds provide a classic look and can be layered with drapes or curtains for a personal touch windows, with specialty motorized blinds in the master bath. The Budget Blinds nationwide network of franchise owners makes the partnership work by their willingness to measure and install the blinds in local builds. Some franchisees have done multiple installations, as you’ll see below. These blinds add exceptional beauty and provide years of worry-free functionality, providing complete light and privacy control as well as improving the home’s energy efficiency.

In addition to the over 40 special adaptations of an HFOT house, including wider halls and doorways, automatic door openers, hardwood floors, roll-under countertops, sinks and cooktops, pull-down shelving, and roll-in showers to give full access to every area of the home, these blinds add comfort and convenience for the Veterans and their families.

Meet Army Sergeant Donald Walters, Jr.

SGT Donald Walters enlisted in the Army in January 2001, a new bridegroom of just four months. Older than most enlistees, he envisioned security and a better life for his family. He served two tours in Iraq, 2003 and 2005, involved with confiscating and destroying munitions. Exposure to chemicals and explosions resulted in PTSD and traumatic brain injury lesions leading to a medical retirement in 2007. After his release, worsening problems persisted with loss of balance and falling down and subsequent tests revealed combat-related Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis. Don has lost the use of both feet, experienced some vision loss and loss of strength so he uses a wheelchair almost full-time.

Don and his wife, Dawnette, were able to move into their new, specially adapted HFOT home in November 2017. He is excited about being able to access every area of the home, including the kitchen where he’ll be able to cook again for his family and safely take part in everyday activities. He shares, “Dawnette could never leave me alone because I need help with everything. Now she can go and do what she needs to do and give us both a little more independence.” She is pretty excited about him cooking her dinner and cleaning up! And when their grandson visits in the summer, Don will be able to go outside and do things with him.

About Homes for Our Troops, Don says, “I’m kind of in shock that people have a heart like that. When you go into combat and see the worst side of man, it’s hard to see that there’s any good left. To see this kind of good, I’m overwhelmed to believe that this is possible.”

Mark and Linda Paulson, franchise owners of Budget Blinds Serving North Charlotte measured and installed the window blinds throughout the house to ensure that SGT Walters and his family will have beautiful window coverings and years of carefree functionality.

Hear SGT Walters and Dawnette share their journey by clicking here.

Meet Army Staff Sergeant Russell Dennison

SSGT Russell Dennison had always wanted to be in the Army since he was a little boy. During his third deployment in Afghanistan and his first day as a platoon sergeant, he stepped on a 15-pound improvised explosive device (IED). The blast threw him 20 feet into a creek where his platoon leader pulled him out and began patching him up. He was MEDEVAC’d to Kandahar Air Base where both his legs were amputated and he was treated for other serious injuries.

His wife, Samantha, received a call late at night telling her he was “very seriously injured,” not knowing at the time that that was code for “they might lose him in the next 48 hours.” He called her about six hours later and she shares, “He said his legs were gone. I said, ‘Are you sure?’ But of course, he knows.”  For the first three months at Walter Reed Medical Center, SSGT Dennison underwent 28 surgeries. He mastered prosthetics and, a year after physical therapy he did the 25-Mile Bataan Death March in 14 hours and “a lot of ice afterward.”

At present, his wheelchair stays in the basement because he can’t navigate their apartment in his chair. He has to put his legs on and off for everything. “If something happens and I can’t wear my prosthetics I’m pretty much down for the count, I can’t get around.”  They are both excited about the HFOT home’s open floor plan and wide hallways that will allow him access to the entire house, including his kids’ bedrooms. He earned a degree in welding and plans to build a home workshop. His hobbies are snowboarding, weightlifting and shooting.

About HFOT he says, “For you to give me and my family, people you hardly know, this great gift is overwhelming and I am blessed. I know myself and fellow Soldiers are not forgotten and we have amazing people like you to help us and offer your support. From the bottom of my heart, I am truly grateful and will continue to be for the rest of my life.”

Eric and Joni Juergens, franchise owners of Budget Blinds Serving SE Madison, had the privilege of placing faux wood blinds throughout the Dennison home, providing beauty and convenience that they will enjoy for years.

Share SSGT Dennison’s and Samantha’s courage as they share their story by clicking here.

Meet Army Sergeant Cristian Valle

SGT Cristian Valle was performing a vehicle checkpoint in Iraq in 2005 when a mortar round grenade was tossed from a passing vehicle and exploded a few feet from him. He was thrown into the air, remaining conscious the whole time. Through the dust and smoke, he saw his wedding ring and that is what pulled him through–his wife and four children. Severe injuries included a fractured pelvis, burns, significant blood loss and amputation of both his legs. He spent 13 months at Walter Reed Medical Center, undergoing multiple surgeries and months of physical therapy.

Their present home is not equipped for his needs and limits what he can do. His wife, Blanca, worries for his safety when he is home alone. The whole family is excited about the new specially adapted HFOT home that is ground-level, has accessible kitchen and bathroom, automatic doors, and more. He sees this new home as a “reset button” for him and his family. “With this new house being wide open, I can go anywhere. She doesn’t have to worry about me all the time. I can be independent and we can live more together as a family.” He plans to continue his education, pursuing a film career making movies and Blanca wants to study photography.

SGT Valle participates in hand cycling for Team HFOT to raise awareness of the organization and help provide support for others. He’s grateful for everything HFOT does and appreciates all its generous supporters. “My injuries proved to be very challenging and debilitating for me and my family. Having the opportunity to participate in such a great program means a lot to us.”

Franchise owners Tony and Kenda Richerson of Budget Blinds serving Temecula were delighted to provide measuring and installation services for SGT Valle and his family. This is the sixth HFOT home for Tony, donating time and expertise to help a fellow Veteran.

Hear Cristian and Blanca tell their story by clicking here.

New year, new look
If new window treatments are in your home improvement plan for 2018, Budget Blinds offers many high-quality window covering options, including shutters, blinds, natural woven shades, cellular shades, drapery, and more, in colors, styles, and finishes for every budget. Call 866-879-9730 to schedule a free, in-home consultation or go online to find a Style Consultant near you.

  • Read the January 2018 HFOT Foundations newsletter for more information and to read follow-up stories on past home recipients.

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