There are lots of ceremonies throughout life, marking special days and events. Some are of more consequence than others, bringing big life changes such as marriage and the Key Ceremony when a mortgage-free, specially adapted home from Homes for Our Troops (HFOT) is awarded to a severely injured Veteran!
Key Ceremony day is when the Veteran receives the keys to his or her new, specially adapted home, the beginning of a whole new life
For 15 years, HFOT has been building and awarding these homes to post 9/11 Veterans who have sustained extreme injuries such as multiple amputations, full or partial paralysis, traumatic brain injury (TBI), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), burns, and impairment of vision and hearing while serving in the military. With over 40 special adaptations, these forever homes help to restore lost freedom and independence so Veterans can access every area of the home and do more everyday tasks for themselves, building confidence and rebuilding their lives.
Faux wood blinds add beauty and functionality
Budget Blinds® joined in partnership with HFOT in 2014 as the official window coverings provider for these amazing homes. In partnership with Springs Window Fashions® who manufactures and donates the product and our Budget Blinds franchise owners who measure and install the blinds, we provide custom faux wood blinds for each home built. Faux wood blinds from our exclusive Signature Series Collection® were chosen for the HFOT homes for their versatility and durability, providing valuable benefits and years of worry-free operation.
- Provides energy efficiency to lower utility costs year-round.
- Made of durable polymer materials, they won’t crack, chip, fade, or peel.
- Classic, white 2” slats are compatible with any home’s décor.
- Moisture resistant, they are excellent for kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms.
- Automatic blinds motorized by Somfy® provide added security and safety in the master bath.
Roll-in showers and special bathtubs are favorites to make every day a happier experience by removing barriers to independence
Budget Blinds is proud to align with HFOT and its supporters to make a difference in the lives of Veterans and their families as explained by H.T. Landwemeyer, Jr., Brigadier General, USA Retired, President and CEO of Homes for Our Troops: “The freedom and independence you help provide our Veterans enable them to recover and move forward with their lives. You are giving these Veterans and their families an amazing gift—a new start and a chance to rebuild.”
Meet Army Sergeant Jereme Sawyer
Jereme Sawyer began his military career at age 17 while still in high school, by joining the Washington National Guard. Eight years after finishing that duty, he felt a void and went back in as active duty Army and deployed to Afghanistan as a motor transport operator in 2012. A reverse plate improvised explosive device (IED) went off while he was overseeing removal of a t-wall barrier. His right leg was severed, his pelvis broken in four places, and his left leg severely damaged, later requiring amputation.
He has been renting a home with his mom who is his primary care giver and dreaming of the time they can both get some independence back. He believes his new, specially adapted HFOT home in Tenino, WA, will do just that. With hardwood floors, roll-under counter tops, and the “huge bathroom that is an awesome thing,” he’ll regain freedom and independence. “Homes for Our Troops is a second chance, a chance for me to start my life,” he says. He’s excited to unpack and display his Army memorabilia and flag to make the home truly his own.
With a permanent place to live, Jereme plans to go to welding school and eventually build a shop off the accessible garage. He’s an auto sports enthusiast, and says, “I’m the no-legged guy who drives the super-changed Mustang down the quarter mile.” He’s a member of the local Mustang club and drove his modified truck to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota and to Roush Enterprises in Detroit.
He learned of HFOT about a year after his injury and his first impression was it’s too good to be true and this can’t be real! Going through the process he says, “Hearing people’s stories who are part of the HFOT family inspires me to see if there’s something I can do to help out the next guy or gal. What more can you ask for? It’s great people!”
Camaraderie within the HFOT family is part of the magic that transforms lives
Amber Snaza, franchise owner of Budget Blinds of Lacey, measured and installed the blinds in Jereme’s new home and shared in the excitement of Volunteer Day when volunteers and fellow Veterans put in the landscaping. She shares, “Being part of Homes for Our Troops has been so rewarding. What our military families sacrifice to keep us safe is beyond words. I feel privileged to be able to give back.” Amber is looking forward to any new home builds in her area.
Watch Jereme share his story and his infectious smile by clicking here.
Meet Navy Petty Officer Third Class Justin Hendrickson
Justin Hendrickson joined the military shortly after graduating high school with a desire to see the world. He enlisted in the Navy as a corpsman and deployed to Afghanistan, serving with the Marines. In 2005, on deployment in Iraq and conducting a resupply mission, the vehicle he was in drove over an IED, injuring everyone and killing the driver. Justin sustained traumatic brain injury and shrapnel to all his extremities, resulting in the amputation of his right leg.
In the years following his injury, Justin earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees and met and married his wife, Jennie. She was a dance teacher when they met and shares, “I invited him to go dancing and when he hesitated, I asked if he had two left feet. He said no, that he only had one foot. I didn’t see him as disabled; I just saw him like everyone else.” Justin is a nurse at a local hospital and teaches college courses and they celebrate life by traveling, fishing, scuba diving, and being doggie parents.
In 2016, Jennie was diagnosed with brain cancer and the specially adapted home from HFOT will provide a safe environment for recovery for both as they build a future together in Harrisville, PA. Their present home restricts Justin to one room when in his wheelchair, but the new home will give access to every room. He says, “Having a house that will allow me to take care of myself and I can also take care of her. It takes a load off … the peace of mind being able to live in a house that is boundary free.”
Most importantly for them, they say the home will allow them to spend quality time with each other. “I don’t think we could ask for anything more,” Jennie says. Justin says he is humbled and thankful for HFOT’s donors and supporters who take the time out of their lives to help others. “This home will allow us to live as normal of a life as we can. It’s an opportunity for freedom and safety.”
Living every day to the fullest and planning for a bright future ahead
This is the first HFOT home for Frank and Shirell Tislaretz, franchise owners of Budget Blinds of Beaver and East Ohio River Valley, to support our Veterans in this way. Shirell shares, “Frank and I felt honored when we were asked if our Budget Blinds would like to participate in a HFOT project. We enjoyed meeting Justin and Jenny at the groundbreaking ceremony. They are a great couple and very deserving of this home. We wish them many years of happiness in their new home!” Their team measured and installed the blinds for Justin and Jennie to help make their new home more beautiful and energy efficient. Motorized blinds in the master bath provide additional safety with one-touch remote control operation.
Justin and Jennie share their story; listen in by clicking here.
Enhance your home with energy-efficient window coverings
If you’re battling the heat of summer trying to keep your home cool, Budget Blinds can help with a wide range of custom window treatments, including blinds, shutters, shades, and drapes that can make your windows work for you by improving your home’s energy efficiency. Call 866-879-9730 today to schedule a free, in-home consultation or go online to www.budgetblinds.com to find a Style Consultant near you. Our stylish window treatments can also help you go green with eco-friendly products, create a safer environment for children and pet with cordless options, and provide the ultimate in convenience with smart home automation.
- Make a secure donation or learn more about Budget Blinds and Homes for Our Troops: Budget Blinds Proudly Supports Homes for Our Troops.
Read HFOT’s June Foundations newsletter for more real-life stories of changed lives through specially adapted homes.