At the start of this year, Homes for Our Troops (HFOT) reached a milestone by awarding the 250th specially adapted, mortgage-free home to a severely injured Veteran. Budget Blinds®, as a corporate sponsor since 2014, has been supplying custom window coverings to help make each house a more comfortable home. May added two more homes to the total and, so far in June, three more Veterans received HFOT homes with our private label Signature Series® faux wood blinds adorning windows and doors in every room for privacy, energy efficiency and timeless beauty.
The Budget Blinds franchise owners who have provided measuring and installation services in these three homes have outfitted 17 HFOT homes between them! The communities where these homes have been built welcome Veterans with open arms and Linda and Jeffrey Schields (Budget Blinds of San Antonio, TX) and Tony and Kenda Richerson (Budget Blinds of Temecula, CA) are always willing to do the honors.
A labor of love and gratitude
Being a corporate sponsor of HFOT is an exciting partnership that involves everyone in the Budget Blinds franchise network. It’s an opportunity to collectively and individually make a difference in the lives of Veterans and their families who have made extraordinary sacrifices in service to our country. Participation takes many forms:
- Budget Blinds’ Corporate Home Office commitment of product, services and cash donations
- Corporate Home Office, local franchise owners, and their employees participate in Volunteer Days and Key Ceremonies
- Long-time manufacturing partner, Springs Window Fashions®, donates the blinds and their local window covering representatives attend HFOT events
- The nationwide network of franchise business owners who donate time and expertise to each home installation, and often make personal cash donations as well
Supporting HFOT in building these homes is a way to give a tangible and long-lasting “thank you” to severely injured Veterans who face daily challenges due to catastrophic injuries such as multiple amputations, hearing or vision loss, full and partial paralysis, PTSD and traumatic brain injury.
Meet Army Corporal Aaron Jacinto
CPL Aaron Jacinto felt the pull to serve his county while in high school when 9/11 happened. He and his brother enlisted and were both in Afghanistan when, on his second deployment in 2011, his barracks was hit by a mortar attack. In a split second, he went from Army Medic to a patient with major injuries, including amputation of half his right foot and partial amputation on the left foot, shattered ankle, broken tibia and massive internal injuries. At the medical aid station, he was told to “say his goodbyes” as they began working on him.
His indomitable spirit pulled him through long and painful surgeries and recovery, and he relearned how to walk and run with foot prosthetics. Within three years he was also skydiving, SCUBA diving and surfing. But having a two-story, non-wheelchair accessible home presents daily challenges that make life difficult. Stairs are a big problem and he relies on his service dog, Bear, for help and safety.
Of his specially adapted HFOT home, he says, “I look forward to being independent. Homes for Our Troops is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I couldn’t be more grateful for that. I get the opportunity to feel normal and to be normal again. The help you provide is most appreciated and won’t go to waste.”
Presently a full-time college student, he would like to use his medical background to go into nursing or as a physician’s assistant. He also wants to volunteer with an organization that trains service dogs, to help others.
Linda and Jeffrey Schield, franchise owners of Budget Blinds serving North San Antonio, measured for and installed the blinds for CPL Jacinto and his new neighbor and fellow Veteran, CPL Steven Bultje, whose story is below. This is homes nine and ten for the Schields who share their heart for this partnership: “San Antonio is a very strong military community. Supporting Veterans in this ministry is an honor, especially knowing how much the families have sacrificed for our country. We are very proud to be partners with HFOT, doing our part to make each Veteran’s life better.”
See CPL Jacinto share his story by clicking here.
Meet Marine Corporal Steven Bultje
A sense of duty to serve his country moved CPL Steven Bultje to join the Marine Corps shortly after high school. He was on the second tour of duty to Afghanistan in 2011 as an Infantry Assaultman when he stepped on an improvised explosive device. Resultant injuries caused the eventual amputation of his right leg after two years of surgeries trying to save it. During recovery he met his future wife, Angela, a Navy Corpsman who helped care for him … and love blossomed.
When they both exited the military, they wanted to find their dream house, but with a barrier at every corner due to his prosthetic, a conventional home wasn’t working. They researched several organizations, but no one had the special adaptations that HFOT offers. In their current home, CPL Bultje is prevented from fully parenting their two small children because his wheelchair can’t fit through narrow doorways and hallways. He says, “I cannot wait to have a home that is obstacle-free so that I can raise my children from my wheelchair.” Angela chimes in, “I’m excited that he’ll be able to prepare meals from his wheelchair and do laundry on his own, tasks that people take for granted.”
Both he and Angela have gotten their BA’s, his in Urban Planning and hers in Healthcare Administration. With the new HFOT home, they are ready to move to the next phase of life. They have much respect for HFOT’s donors and supporters: “It is truly humbling to see just how much the American people support the troops. There’s no amount of thanks that we can say that is sufficient.”
As mentioned above, this is the tenth HFOT home for Linda and Jeffrey Schields. Faux wood blinds were specifically chosen for the HFOT homes because of their beauty, durability, and functionality. They are moisture resistant and guaranteed not to chip, crack or fade over time. They will provide years of beauty, privacy, and energy efficiency for CPL Bultje and his family.
Hear Steven and Angela share their story here.
Meet Marine Corporal John Smith
In 2004, CPL John Smith was in Iraq for a second deployment when he was hit with a mortar round fired into his unit. The last thing he remembers hearing before passing out was, “We got you, Marine. You’re safe now.” His injuries included amputation of his right leg, loss of sight in his left eye and other injuries that at first evaluation, meant he would never use his arms again and would spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair.
After four weeks in a coma, he awoke to that dismal diagnosis and says he didn’t believe it in his heart and he kept working at it. His recovery was “a slow start with a miracle result” and within two months he got his arms back, and in four months he was able to start walking again. With faith and support from friends, he slowly “regained a little bit of normalcy” in his new life.
The HFOT home will give another boost to normalcy with the mortgage-free home giving him financial stability, allowing him to pursue his goals of a BA and interests in music, art, photography, and film. He shares, “I’m more excited for the future than I’ve ever been because it seems like there’s actually a concrete plan that I can adhere to.”
CPL Smith expresses a deep appreciation to the donors, sponsors, and supporters of HFOT for a home that is specially adapted to his needs. “The world is full of empty promises, but to know that a group of people are willing to stand in the crosshairs for us when we can no longer do so, brings a warmth to my heart. The love you show to us Vets is the cure, and I can feel the love, as I’m sure many others before me have.”
This is the seventh HFOT house for Tony and Kenda Richerson, franchise owners of Budget Blinds serving Temecula. With family members in the military and on deployment, they are sensitive to the sacrifices made every day by servicemen and women. Tony shares, “It has been a pleasure to provide window coverings for CPL John Smith and his family. I am honored to help Homes for Our Troops provide our combat Veterans and their families the things that they need after serving and sacrificing for us. Can’t wait to do more!” Installing custom blinds in each home provides beauty and comfort and is a tangible way to say thank you.
Click here to see and hear CPL Smith share his experience.
Budget Blinds offers a wide variety of high-quality window covering options, with blinds of all kinds, shutters, natural woven shades, cellular shades, drapery and more, including smart home technology and Somfy® motorization. Myriad colors, styles and finishes can accommodate every taste and every budget. Call 866-879-9730 to schedule a free, in-home consultation or find a Style Consultant near you.
Visit We Proudly Support Our Troops to learn more about the Budget Blinds / Homes for Our Troops partnership or to make a donation.