Making Life Better for Severely Injured Veterans and Their Families

Budget Blinds® has been a partner with Homes for Our Troops (HFOT) for almost two years and has been privileged to place faux wood blinds from our Signature Series® collection into dozens of homes for severely wounded Veterans.

HFOT has been building these homes since 2004, with over 40 special adaptations, including wider halls and doorways, automatic door openers, roll-under countertops in kitchens and bathrooms, pull-down shelving and more, to live out their mission “To build mortgage-free, specially adapted homes nationwide for severely injured Veterans Post-9/11, to enable them to rebuild their lives.”

It’s more than a labor of love, as explained by Major General (USA, retired) Timothy P. McHale, President/CEO of HFOT: “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.”

An investment in a new future

Catastrophic injuries, including multiple amputations and traumatic brain injury, set these heroic men and women on a very different path than they originally planned. Their futures, careers and families are forever impacted, and giving a Veteran a secure home specially adapted to their needs, helps them move forward with confidence and independence.

Budget Blinds and our long-time, trusted manufacturing partner, Springs Window Fashions®, donate and install over a dozen sets of blinds in each home and the garage, on all windows, patio doors and French doors, including the additional convenience of motorized blinds in the master bath. This is especially helpful since the oversized spa tub makes the window basically unreachable for a veteran.  The Somfy® powered remote control blinds give light and privacy control at the touch of a button from the comfort and safety of a wheelchair.

To demonstrate the empowering impact of these homes, here are quotes from three Veterans receiving HFOT homes this spring. (You can read their stories below.)

  • The peace of mind that comes with knowing that we can expand as a family without panicking, earning the confidence of my family to stay home alone and to grow old in a home without having to move once I get to a certain age, is truly irreplaceable.” –Army Sergeant Josh Wetzel
  • We are so thankful and blessed that Homes for Our Troops is willing to help give my life back to me. This home will be a place where I am not just trapped in a living space where I have to depend on others…this home will give me back my independence and I will be able to restart my life. Thank you for giving me this opportunity.”  –Marine Sergeant Luis Remache
  • “It is a blessing knowing there are people wanting to support wounded service members. There are no words to describe the feeling of gratitude my family and I have for HFOT’s staff, donors and supporters.” –Army Sergeant First Class Edgar Barrera

Meet SFC Edgar Barrera

With almost 15 years serving in the Army he loved, SFC Barrera was on his third deployment in Afghanistan in 2012 when he stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED) while on foot patrol. He lost both his legs and his left hand, undergoing multiple surgeries and years of rehab at Brooks Army Medical Center in San Antonio. He describes going home as “kind of like a new life when I got out of the hospital,” around the challenges of living in a traditional home, now full of barriers and restrictions.

He looks forward to the freedom of movement the new HFOT house will afford him, with wheelchair access throughout, including his two kids’ rooms. He wants a man cave where he can do his art and hobbies. He and his wife, Lucia, anticipate him being able to safely cook in the specially adapted kitchen, and she shares, “It’s going to be equipped so he can cook, so I want a meal out of it!” They are both excited about how this forever home will also enable their children to have a brighter future.

SFC Barrera has focused the past three years on rehab, working toward a Bachelor’s Degree in graphic arts and animation at Central Texas College, and as an involved husband and father. He shares, “Soldiers don’t look for a handout or to be praised. We do what we do because we love it; a lot of times we do it for the guy left and right of us. We come back and organizations like this that are willing to help veterans…I don’t even know how to explain it.

Jeff and Linda Schield, franchise owners of Budget Blinds serving North San Antonio, measured for and installed the faux wood blinds for SFC Barrera and his family. This is their second HFOT house, and when presented with the opportunity to again help, they declared, “We will definitely participate!”

Hear SFC Barrera and Lucia share their story by clicking here.

Meet SGT Luis Remache

While on his third deployment in Afghanistan in 2011, SGT Remache was on an overnight mission off-post when  a firefight of small arms fire and a grenade blast left him with life-threatening injuries, including severe stomach lacerations, injury to his right elbow and both hands, and amputation of both his legs above the knee. Within a few days, he was in Walter Reed National Medical Center, undergoing nearly a dozen surgeries. During the course of rehabilitation and recovery, he met and eventually married Cynthia, who was working at Walter Reed with the Marine Corp liaison helping family members of the wounded, and she committed to helping him start walking more.

SGT Remache is active with his church and enjoys handcycling, wheelchair basketball and volleyball. He plans to go back to school and complete his degree. They are anticipating the new HFOT home, close to his family in New York and specially adapted to his specific needs so he can be independent and safe. Cynthia confesses to being a “worry wart,” so a safe and accessible home for him is very important to her. They look forward to eventually raising a family of their own.

Keith and Anita Maucere, franchise owners of Budget Blinds serving The Hamptons, and their entire team (Maggie, Laure, Anna Maria and Dave) participated in measuring and installing the blinds for SGT Remache’s home, and Laure attended the Key Ceremony. Keith shares, “We take great pride in the women and men in uniform who serve our country every day and we are honored to be a part of this wonderful experience. Words cannot express our gratitude.”

Hear SGT Remache and Cynthia share their story by clicking here.

Meet Army SGT Josh Wetzel

In Afghanistan in 2012, SGT Wetzel was leading a weapons squad when his metal detector failed to register a non-metallic IED and he stepped on it, causing an explosion that sent him seven feet into the air. Severely injured, he was attended by the medic, who happened to be his best friend, and was loaded onto the helicopter to be flown to safety and emergency care. His injuries included both arms broken, a C4 break in his neck, and amputation of both his legs. His wife, Paige, joined him at Walter Reed National Medical Center and stayed close, “happy he was back no matter what condition he was in.” SGT Wetzel got his prosthetic legs in August and by December 2012, he had learned to walk, run, swim, handcycle, monoski and drive. They became parents to a new baby girl, Harper, in August 2013, and he is determined that his injuries will not prevent him from doing the things he loves, including pursuing his goals at Auburn University.

The family have been living in a two-bedroom condo that is not suited to his needs, carpeting makes using his wheelchair very difficult, he cannot use the shower, and the countertops and cabinets in the kitchen are too high and using the stove is dangerous. The new HFOT house will be the right environment, and he won’t need constant help, he can be more independent. He’ll have a roll-in shower, hardwood floors and accessible kitchen. The four-bedroom home will also accommodate future little Wetzels. Paige expresses their joy: This is where we can go each day…to have a safe place to live. I’m really thankful for it.”

Mike and Linda Fortner, franchise owners of Budget Blinds of Anniston, volunteered time and expertise to measure and install the faux wood blinds throughout the home.  ”Both our fathers severed in the Navy and Linda’s brother is an active Colonel in the U.S. Army. Anytime we have an opportunity to give back to any branch of our Armed Forces we are honored to do so. To participate in this project was a privilege and we wish SGT Wetzel and his family the best in their new home.”

Hear SGT Wetzel and Paige share their story by clicking here.

If new window treatments would increase the energy efficiency in your home, provide a more modern, updated look, or if Somfy motorization could provide added convenience, Budget Blinds can help with our designer collections of window treatments, including blinds, shutters, shades, drapes and more. Call 866-879-9730 today to schedule a free, in-home consultation or go online at www.budgetblinds.com to find a Style Consultant near you. Ask about eco-friendly products and child-safe cordless options for all your window covering needs.

To learn more about Homes for Our Troops and how you can help provide homes for severely injured Veterans and their families, go to https://www.hfotusa.org/.