Most of us go through our days without giving much thought to how we function. We walk, sit, stand and run around effortlessly from task to task, in and out of our homes and cars, just living everyday life. But there is a segment of our society for whom this carefree existence is not the norm: severely injured Veterans who have suffered catastrophic injuries such as multiple limb amputations, partial or full paralysis and severe traumatic brain injury from serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. For them, the prospect of making a quick sandwich or popping out to get the mail can be difficult.
That is why Homes for Our Troops (HFOT) began awarding specially-adapted, mortgage-free homes to severely-injured post-9/11 Veterans in 2004, to enable them to focus on recovery and rebuilding their lives. Since then, 231 homes have been awarded, changing the very world for Veterans and their families. Homes have over 40 major special adaptations to provide complete access to the Veteran. These adaptations include:
- Wider halls and doorways to accommodate wheelchairs
- Hands-free automatic door openers, zero threshold entryways
- Roll-under sinks, stovetops and countertops in kitchens and bathrooms
- Pull-down shelving and accessible appliances
- Roll-in shower with digital temperature control
These homes restore some of the freedom and independence Veterans sacrificed while defending our country. “We at Homes for Our Troops do not believe in giving a home to severely injured veterans in charity. We believe it is a moral obligation of our society. There is no way we can repay you for your service to our country, but we hope this home can be a down payment.” —Major General (USA, retired) Timothy P. McHale, Director, Homes for Our Troops
Budget Blinds aligns with Homes for Our Troops
Budget Blinds® became a corporate sponsor of HFOT in 2014, committing to install faux wood blinds from our Signature Series® collection in all the homes built over the next three years. Blinds are donated by our manufacturing partner, Springs Window Fashions®, and local independent Budget Blinds franchise owners do measuring and install for the homes in their areas. All total, Budget Blinds has pledged a $1 million donation to HFOT, including cash, products, and services throughout our three-year commitment. The new President and CEO of HFOT, Tom Landwermeyer, Brigadier General (Ret) USA, continues the legacy: “Joining HFOT…is truly an honor for me. I am truly excited about the opportunity to assist even more Veterans in acquiring the homes they need to rebuild their lives.”
Budget Blinds franchise business owners, like Linda and Jeffrey Schield of Budget Blinds serving North San Antonio, are integral to the success of this partnership. All across the country, wherever the HFOT homes are built, they willingly give their time and expertise, ensuring that each home has high-quality window coverings that provide comfort and convenience, including specialty remote-controlled motorized blinds powered by Somfy® in the master bath to alleviate the danger of reaching across the tub to adjust the blinds.
In fact, both homes of the Veterans introduced today were done by Budget Blinds serving North San Antonio, making homes number five and six where they have installed blinds. They are unwavering in their support whenever an HFOT home is built in their area. “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.”
Meet Army Sergeant Jeffrey Hemenger
SGT Jeffrey Hemenger enlisted in the Army when he was 17. He exited the Army after that first enlistment period, then re-enlisted a few years later. On a tour of duty in Iraq in 2007, he sustained multiple injuries in a vehicle accident, including PTSD, traumatic brain injury causing 80% loss of vision, and injury to his right foot that eventually necessitated amputation of his leg below the knee.
A husband and father, Hemenger is looking forward to the freedom and independence of the specially-adapted HFOT home, giving back a part of his life that has been missing since his injury. Denied other housing assistance, he is grateful to all the HFOT supporters who have made it possible for his family to finally have a home. “This house will give me a place of peace, comfort and a place to call home.” He’s excited about wider doorways and hallways that will enable him to interact with his family in a barrier-free environment. His kids will have their own bedrooms, he’ll require less assistance for day-to-day routines, and his wife, Sandra, will be able to go back to school.
SGT Hemenger has become passionate about adaptive sports, especially ski-biking that gives him “complete release” from life’s daily challenges. He is involved in trying to expand ski-biking availability at ski resorts. He has also played sled hockey for the San Antonio Rampage and enjoys off-road handcycling.
Sandra was especially impressed with how HFOT “brought us in and treated us like family. No other organization has pulled us in so much and made us feel so loved right from the beginning. We can’t thank Homes for Our Troops enough for making our lives a million times better!”
Click here for more of Jeffrey’s and Sandra’s story.
Meet Army Sergeant Juan Carlos Vasquez
On his third combat tour, 2013 in Afghanistan, SGT Carlos Vasquez was injured when his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device (IED) during a route clearance mission. He suffered the loss of his right leg and broke his right shoulder and lower spine. With hard work and determination he can now drive and walk with few issues, but at the end of the day, he craves the comfort of his wheelchair and freedom from the prosthetic leg.
In their current home, he cannot access half of the house, including getting his wheelchair into his kids’ rooms or into the bathroom to shower. The new HFOT specially-adapted home will give him full access, without assistance needed, to every part of the home. He is looking forward to being able to cook with his kids, in a kitchen adapted to his needs with lower countertops and pull-down cabinets. He and his wife, Lisa, are overwhelmed, in a good way, with what this new home will mean for the family. “You are giving us back a little piece of our freedom that we have already fought for. Words can never express our gratitude for this organization, all its supporters and everything it stands for.”
The mortgage-free home will enable Vasquez to focus on completing his college degree to become a school counselor for middle school kids. He says, “I feel that in middle school I can have the most effect and try to influence young men and women to do something good.” Lisa agrees that he has a lot to offer and will be a good counselor. His counselor’s heart has him currently providing support to other injured Veterans at weekly group therapy sessions.
See and hear Carlos and Lisa share their story by clicking here.
If it’s time to update your windows, Budget Blinds can help with our extensive and versatile line of window treatments including blinds, shutters, shades, drapes and more. Increased energy efficiency will keep your summers cooler, eco-friendly products let you go green, and cordless options, including motorization, provide for pet and child safety throughout your home. Call 866-879-9730 to schedule a free, in-home consultation or go online at www.budgetblinds.com to find a Style Consultant near you. With Budget Blinds, you’ll find style and service for every budget!
To learn more about the Budget Blinds partnership with Homes for Our Troops or to make a donation, go to We Proudly Support Our Troops.