A specially adapted, mortgage-free home for a severely injured Veteran is a dream come true. As they struggle with the challenges and barriers of navigating traditional homes due to injuries such as amputations, paralysis, burns, loss of sight or hearing, and PTSD, the life-changing freedom of a specially adapted home is an impossible dream for most. That’s why Homes For Our Troops (HFOT) began their mission in 2004, “to build and donate specially adapted custom homes nationwide for severely injured post-9/11 Veterans, to enable them to rebuild their lives.”
SSGT Liam and Meghan Dwyer received their new home on Key Ceremony Day, proudly flying the stars and stripes in the front yard (Read their story below)
The homes are remarkable with over 40 special adaptations designed to accommodate life from a wheelchair with complete access to every area of the house and yard. Automatic door openers, luxury vinyl wood plank flooring, wider doorways and hallways, roll-in shower, roll-under countertops, accessible appliances, and more, make each home a safe and comfortable living environment for a Veteran and their family.
Budget Blinds®, corporate sponsor of HFOT for six years
Budget Blinds became a corporate sponsor and the exclusive supplier of window coverings for HFOT in 2014, suppling custom window blinds for each house built, supported by our manufacturing partner, Springs Window Fashions who donates the blinds. Beautiful, white faux wood blinds add a finishing touch, adding light and privacy control as well as energy efficiency for the homes. Local Budget Blinds franchise owners share directly in the partnership by being the “feet on the ground,” measuring and installing the blinds when a home is built in their territory. Additionally, they can participate in the home-building milestones—Community Kickoff, Volunteer Day, and the Key Ceremony—supporting and celebrating our hero Veterans—this year with the added factor of working around individual state safety requirements for attendance at events and gatherings.
The Budget Blinds of Franklin franchise owners Jim and Kathy Suttle with daughter, Lydia, show support for Veterans by attending HFOT events and by professional installation of blinds in the HFOT homes
The Budget Blinds partnership with HFOT is a very special way to say a tangible “thank you” for the huge sacrifices made by our brave men and women who serve in the military, protecting the freedoms we enjoy every day. It’s a privilege to support the HFOT mission to help injured Veterans rebuild their lives and realize their dreams.
Meet Marine Corporal Joseph Woodke
Like so many young men, Corporal Joseph (Joey) Woodke joined the military right out of high school, not feeling ready for college and wanting to do something better with his life. Everything changed in 2011 in Afghanistan when he stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED) while on a raid of a Taliban-controlled village, sustaining the loss of both legs, damage to his right ear, and one thumb immobilized. He describes his experience as similar to that of so many others—months in and out of surgery and physical therapy as soon as strong enough to learn to walk. Returning home to Michigan, the icy winters proved too much, and he moved to Tennessee for the warmer climate where a friend he’d made at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center hailed from.
Joey learned about HFOT while at Walter Reed, where he met retired Marines Ben Maenza and John Curtin who had received specially adapted HFOT homes in 2013 and 2019, respectively. The three men became fast friends, doing physical therapy together and ultimately becoming sled hockey teammates for the Nashville Sled Predators, earning spots on the 2019-2020 U.S. National Sled Hockey Team. He has also hand-cycled in seven marathons and dreams one day of opening his own gym, empowered by his business degree and the freedom of the mortgage-free home from HFOT in Franklin that he describes as a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Joey says it’s hard to put into words how grateful he is for the support not just for himself but for all injured Veterans. “Good people like HFOT’s donors and supporters are the reason why we were all willing to go to war. We wanted to defend them and this country and seeing all the supporters’ generosity and care makes it easier what happened. Thank you for the help, and I hope you keep supporting this great charity.”
Best friends forged from adversity and now teammates: front row, Ben Maenza, John Curtin, and Joey Woodke; back row: Nashville coach and fellow Marine Keith Grooms
Franchise owners Jim and Kathy Suttle of Budget Blinds of Franklin participate throughout the HFOT building process, attending Community Kickoffs, Volunteer Days laying in landscaping, and Key Ceremony days when the home was awarded. They share: “We have been involved with Homes for Our Troops for a few years. This is the second HFOT home that we have been honored to measure and install blinds for. It is a small way in which everyone on our team can say ‘Thank You for Your Service.’ We are able to enjoy our freedom and our lives, because of brave heroes such as Corporal Woodke.” The local Springs Window Fashion Field Sales Representative, Jeanice Spader, joined the celebration as well and says, “It’s one of the best ways I know to give back to someone who has given so much so I can pursue my dreams. The people you meet and work alongside, become some of the best partners you’d ever want to know. I always get more than I ever give working for such a great cause.”
Hear Corporal Joey Woodke share his story by clicking here.
Meet Marine Staff Sergeant Liam Dwyer
Marine Staff Sergeant Liam Dwyer was in college when he decided to join the Marines after the terrorist attack on the USS Cole in 2000. He had family members who had served, and he loved giving back to his country. Liam deployed to Iran in 2006 and in 2010 to Afghanistan when he stepped on a 30-pound IED while on patrol. The blast resulted in the loss of his left leg and severe damage to his right leg and right arm. He describes the approximately four years in the hospital and 50 surgeries as “a pretty trying time both mentally and physically.” He was encouraged by what he saw other amputees doing, amazing things, and said, “I want to do that right there!”
And he has accomplished amazing things. He met his wife, Meghan, a therapist at Walter Reed, and she says, “He is determined to overcome his adversity and make the best out of a challenging circumstance.” Liam is a professional race car driver for Mazda and plans to finish his degree in mechanical engineering once he’s off the racing circuit. He trained his service dog, Stella, and in the process, found the perfect plot of land for their new HFOT home in Lake Worth, Florida, for the sunshine, healthcare, and nearby support of family and friends.
He and Meghan are excited about moving into the specially adapted home that will mean freedom, safety, security, and a new normal that is not centered around visits to the hospital. Meghan shares, “It’s always in the back of your mind, the safety, so you don’t stray too far from the home. Just for him to be able to take the dogs out on his own, to be able to come and go from the house freely, to be able to make yourself breakfast. It’s the little things.” With an open floor plan, wider doorways to accommodate his wheelchair, and no stairs, Liam says,“The possibilities are endless in this new home.”
Mazda discovered Liam racing on his own with no modifications to the cars and now he is one of their professional drivers
For franchise owners John and Kimberlie Raudenbush of Budget Blinds of Wellington, this is their first HFOT home. They graciously donated time and expertise to accurately measure and professionally install custom blinds throughout the home for SSGT Dwyer, including motorized blinds in the master bath for added safety and convenience. When they were told a Veteran build was in their territory, they responded, “We would be happy to be involved with this project! Doing work for these types of situations is both an honor and very humbling. It’s a small part of a big project but it’s great to be able to give back and say thank you for all of your service.”
Hear Liam and Meghan tell their experiences by clicking here.
Stunning window coverings for your home
Budget Blinds is a leader in the window coverings industry with innovative styles for every taste with blinds, shutters, shades, and drapery in myriad colors, textures, and finishes. We have solutions for unique needs such as arched windows, skylights, sliding doors, cordless operation, eco-friendly products, motorization, and more.
Custom Roman shades are just one option to transform your home by stylishly dressing all your windows
Call 866-525-8054 today to schedule a free, in-home or virtual* consultation or go online to www.budgetblinds.com to find your neighborhood Style Consultant who can help you design the windows of your dreams for every room in your house.
- To make a donation to HFOT, visit We Proudly Support Our Troops.
- Take a 360-degree home tour by clicking here and see why these homes are so special.
*Virtual consultations may not be available at every location