Since 2004, Homes for Our Troops (HFOT) has been building mortgage-free specially adapted homes for severely injured veterans, post 9/11, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. To date, over 222 homes have been completed and awarded to veterans and their families, enabling them to rebuild their lives and focus on recovery.
Budget Blinds® has been privileged to support HFOT in building these homes, along with our manufacturing partner, Springs Window Fashions®, by providing faux wood blinds in nearly 60 homes since partnering with HFOT in 2014. A $1 million commitment over a three-year period encompasses products, cash and services, including the expert measuring and professional installation by Budget Blinds’ independent franchise business owners.
At the February Ground Breaking ceremony for Marine Sergeant Toran Gaal’s home (read his story below), Bill Ivey, Executive Director of HFOT, shared, “We are a vehicle for the American people to repay a debt that we owe these men and women who have been severely injured, who have sacrificed some of their independence while defending ours.” With over 40 special adaptations, these homes restore a level of freedom and independence to these heroic veterans who have sustained catastrophic injuries, including multiple limb amputations, partial or full paralysis, and/or traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Home is truly where the heart is
The special adaptations can sound somewhat clinical: wider halls and doorways, automatic door openers, roll-under sinks and counter tops, pull-down shelving, roll-in shower, hardwood floors and no door thresholds. But when you talk to the veterans, many who are fathers of young children, you see a softer side to these life-changing amenities.
- I will be able to access my son’s bedroom so I can read him a bedtime story.
- The open floor plan and wider hallways let me carry my children on my lap around the house.
- I can safely prepare lunch and dinner for my kids in the specially adapted kitchen.
- I have access to the whole house, which means my wife doesn’t have to worry about me when she’s out.
- I can take a real bath or shower without help.
- No carpeting means it’s easier to use my chair and I’m not too tired to play with my children at the end of the day.
- I can be the man of the house, taking care of what needs to be done.
These HFOT homes are truly a blessing to injured veterans and their families. Budget Blinds is honored to be part of the process by supplying stylish, high-quality window coverings that will provide years of comfort and convenience, helping to turn houses into homes.
Meet Marine Lance Corporal Timothy Dobos
LCpl Timothy Dobos joined the Marines right out of high school. His four years of active service included deployments to Kuwait in 2009 and 2010 earthquake relief efforts in Haiti. His job was an electronic warfare analyst and he was honorably discharged in 2012. He attended Lock Haven University, PA, studying applied physics with a concentration in nanotechnology. He and his wife, Robyn, had their first child, Grove, and were excited about the future. The following year, LCpl Dobos started experiencing weakness in his arms and legs and in April 2014, he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The VA determined that his disease was service related, with military members two to three times more likely to be effected by the disease than the general public.
ALS is an incurable, progressive degenerative disease that LCpl Dobos describes as “a creeping paralysis, from extremities inward,” and that he will “eventually lose lung function as it reaches the center.” Within months, he went from using a cane to being wheelchair bound as weakness took over his body. A traditional home presents many challenges and boundaries and Robyn shares how much they are looking forward to a home with more accessibility so he can go to all places in the home. Special adaptations like roll-under sinks and counters in the kitchen and bathroom will enhance his quality of life, and a special track-lift system will provide safety for LCpl Dobos, Robyn and his caregivers.
Now father to two boys (Ezekiel was born in May 2016), he continues to pursue a doctorate in physics, hoping to go into research and development and help figure out the medical side of ALS and a cure. He says, “This home from Homes for Our Troops will allow me to do things for a longer period of time. Thank you very much for supporting the men and women who served our country. Thank you specifically for helping me; your gift will surely change my life.”
Melvin and Georgia Milne, franchise owners of Budget Blinds Serving Altoona, traveled two hours to measure for and then install the blinds for LCpl Dobos and his family, happy to participate in this partnership with HFOT that honors veterans.
You can hear LCpl Dobos and Robyn share their story by clicking here.
Meet Marine Sergeant Toran Gaal
In August 2011, Sgt Gaal woke up from a two-month coma, completely unaware that he had stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED) in Afghanistan, resulting in the loss of both legs and experiencing Traumatic Brain Injury. He thought he was in high school and had no memory of being in the Marines or of his announcement to reenlist the evening before the blast. After seven months in Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda and additional treatments at the VA in Palo Alto and the Balboa Naval Medical Center in San Diego, he was medically retired.
In January 2012, he took his first steps on prosthetics and expressed that it gave, “a whole new level of what satisfaction means.” He has continued with physical fitness as part of his recovery, including surfing and swimming and, in the summer of 2015, he hand cycled across the country to raise money and awareness for fellow injured veterans.
The current home he shares with his wife, Lisa, and their daughter is very limiting and challenging. Narrow halls create difficulty with his wheelchair that he prefers to use in the evenings. He shares that with the new specially adapted HFOT house he is, “Looking forward to open space, having a kitchen where I can reach everything and be able to cook. I’ll have access to a patio, shower and sink access in the bathroom, maneuverability around the house, no door steps or door jams—I won’t have to worry about running into the walls with the wheelchair. There won’t be a part of the house I can’t reach.”
Sgt Gaal is pursuing employment, coaching youth league basketball and working with the Young Marines. “This house allows us to focus on employment and be able to give back as well. The support has been, and will continue to be, a huge inspiration and motivation for me to be better. Serving this country is a phenomenal and great thing to do. Thank you.”
For Joyce Tonnaer, franchise owner of Budget Blinds Serving San Marcos, this is her second HFOT home. She and her team expertly measured and installed all the blinds and attended the home presentation. She shares, “It was an emotional day at the Key Ceremony for Marine Sgt Gaal. I feel very honored to be part of this organization. Sgt Gaal loves the motorized blind in the bathroom! So nice to be able to give something that will make their home more beautiful and functional for his needs.”
Listen to Sgt Gaal talk about his experience by clicking here.
Style and versatility with faux wood blinds
Faux wood blinds were chosen for the HFOT homes because of their versatility and classic beauty. 2” white blinds create a cohesive palette throughout the home that will complement any decorating style. Resistance to moisture makes then ideal for any area of the country as well as any room in the home, such as kitchen, laundry room or bathrooms where moisture can be an issue. Motorized blinds, powered by Somfy® and operated by remote control, were placed in the master bath for the additional safety feature of not having to reach over the tub to operate the hard-to-reach window blinds.
If new faux wood blinds or other window treatments would enhance your own home experience, call 866-590-6341 today to schedule a free, in-home consultation or go to www.budgetblinds.com to find a Style Consultant near you. Blinds, shutters, shades, drapes, window film and more can help to increase the energy efficiency in your home, add trending style, create a more eco-friendly environment, or improve home safety with child-safe cordless options or the ultimate convenience of motorization.
To learn more about the Budget Blinds and Homes for Our Troops partnership or to make a donation to HFOT, click here.