New Beginnings and Second Chances for Severely Injured Veterans

The entire country just celebrated Veteran’s Day and Budget Blinds® agrees there’s no better way to say “thank you” than with a specially adapted, mortgage-free home.

 2,650 sq. ft. specially adapted homes include wider doorways and hallways, hardwood floors, and wheelchair accessibility in every room

Since 2006, Homes for Our Troops (HFOT) has been building and donating homes to post-9/11 severely injured Veterans to help them with recovery and rebuilding their lives. These homes restore some of the freedom and independence lost due to multiple amputations, full- and partial-paralysis, traumatic brain injury (TBI), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and impairment of vision and hearing sustained during military service.

Budget Blinds became a corporate sponsor of Homes for Our Troops in 2014 along with our manufacturing partner, Springs Window Fashions, to supply custom faux wood blinds for each home built for Veterans and their families. Along with over 40 special adaptations, including automatic doors, pull-down cabinets, and roll-under countertops, our window coverings add beauty, convenience and functionality to the homes.

 Faux wood blinds create beautiful windows for every room and provide light and privacy control

Versatile and durable, our Signature Series® classic white faux wood blinds are the perfect choice for homes from coast to coast, which is where HFOT builds, accommodating the Veterans’ location preferences. Faux wood blinds are:

  • Moisture-resistant and safe for any room or any climate
  • Guaranteed not to chip, peel or turn yellow over time
  • Compatible with any home décor and can be personalized with valances or curtains
  • Energy-efficient window coverings that help to lower utility bills
  • Light and privacy control for every room in the house
  • Motorized in the master bath for additional safety

Budget Blinds is honored to partner with HFOT in their mission to give back to Veterans who have sacrificed so much. And, hats off again to the willing Budget Blinds franchise owners who give their time and expertise to ensure that the homes are ready.

Meet Army Staff Sergeant Jose “Freddy” Ruiz

SSG Freddy Ruiz was on his third tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2010 when the Humvee he was driving rolled multiple times after attack by a suicide bomber. SSG Ruiz sustained severe Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and multiple bone fractures. He says he can’t remember anything about this tour to Afghanistan, only previous times, and “just goes by what they tell me happened.” TBI was so severe his therapy involved having to relearn basic functions. He shares, “While I was in rehab, it was basically like I was born again. Like a little kid I had to learn how to do everything. It was hard, but I conquered it and I’m very thankful for the therapist that helped me out.”

His family has been crucial in his recovery, along with his much-loved service dog. His parents sold their home in Dallas and moved to San Antonio to be continually with Freddy during rehab and after he was released. Now he lives with his parents but, before his injury, he lived on his own and is excited about the new HFOT home in Saint Hedwig, TX, so he can feel more “like a normal guy.” Ongoing challenges include balance and difficulty with cognitive functions and the special adaptations in the home will assist with everyday tasks and provide a safe environment. Freddy enjoys fishing, sled hockey, wheelchair soccer, playing drums and doing carpentry projects with his dad. The big, attached garage will afford them plenty of space to pursue their joint hobby. He also looks forward to raising chickens and goats in a fully-accessible backyard.

Freddy considers HFOT as part of his family, too, and after having lost a lot of his old friends due to the personality changes from TBI he says, “It’s people like Homes for Our Troops’ donors and supporters who make me feel important and loved again, it’s a remarkable thing.”

 SSG Ruiz spoke at Key Ceremony Day to friends, family, and new neighbors, and raised the American flag in front of his new, forever home

For Jeff and Kelli Owens, franchise owners of Budget Blinds of Northeast San Antonio, this is the second HFOT home for which they have measured and installed faux wood blinds. Each home includes up to 15 windows and doors covered, with specialty motorized blinds powered by Somfy® in the master bath for additional safety and ultimate convenience. Kelli shares: “We are happy to have just completed our 2nd HFOT home for SSG Freddy Ruiz. We are privileged to be a part of this program and give back just a little bit to the brave men and women who have fought for our country.”   

Listen to Freddy tell his story by clicking here.

Meet Marine Corporal Josh Langston-White

CPL Josh Langston-White grew up hearing stories of being a Marine from his dad, so looking for something new after a couple of years out of high school, he enlisted in the Marine Corps to serve his country. In 2012 in Afghanistan, he was on his first deployment, returning from a patrol, when he stepped on a 20-pound improvised explosive device (IED) and lost both his legs above the knee. He says that as soon as he got into therapy, he was highly motivated to start walking, wanting to get as close as possible to a normal life. 13 surgeries and a year-and-a-half of recovery got him back home to Florida, where he now works for Citrus United Way running the Veteran service program Mission United.

Presently Josh lives in a small apartment with his wife, Brittni, and their young son who was born December 2017. Normal daily activities are challenging, with a step entryway, narrow doorways, and inaccessible shelves and appliances. He’s looking forward to the specially adapted HFOT house in Crystal River with zero thresholds, automatic doors, an open floor plan, roll-under appliances and sinks, and a master bath with roll-in shower and accessible bathtub. He shares, “Marines are known for being tough, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I shed a few tears when I walk into that house for the first time, knowing I can provide for my family and be a productive member of society.

He loves sports and is delighted every time he beats his golf buddies in a regular game, without any adaptive equipment. Josh also enjoys any activity involving water, like fishing, swimming and tubing. He and Brittni share the awe of what Homes for Our Troops does for Veterans. She says, “The difference that donors are making in Veterans’ lives, including our lives, is huge. They are giving us a whole new opportunity at life, giving us another chance.” Josh adds, “It’s definitely an inspiration to see the HFOT team--the family--and what they do. I can’t wait to pay it forward and return the favor.”

 Jana Faulkner, owner of Budget Blinds of Ocala, at Volunteer Day when dozens of people helped with laying sod and planting flowers and trees, getting the home ready for move-in day

Jeff and Jana Faulkner, franchise owners of Budget Blinds of Ocala, were excited to participate with their first HFOT home, providing comfort and convenience for CPL Langston-White and his family by measuring for and installing the faux wood blinds. They attended Volunteer Day when the landscaping was put in, and Jana shares the experience, “I don’t know how many volunteers are here today, all working to get this house ready for Josh and his new family. It’s not easy work either, but we’re happy to do it. God bless Josh and God bless America.” 

You can hear Josh and Brittni share their journey by clicking here.

Update your window coverings before the holidays

This is the time of year when many people update their home with new window treatments. Budget Blinds offers a wide range of custom window treatments, including blinds, shutters, shades, drapes, and more, to update your home for added comfort, style or energy efficiency. Call 866-879-9730 todayto schedule a free, in-home consultation or go online to www.budgetblinds.com to find a Style Consultant near you. Ask about one-touch motorization, eco-friendly products and child-safe cordless options to ensure that you get everything you need from your window coverings.

  • To make a donation or to learn more about Budget Blinds’ support of Homes for Our Troops, check out We Proudly Support Our Troops.
  • To read the HFOT November Foundations newsletter, click here.