SPC Ignacio Arriaga

Florida

Ignacio Arriaga grew up watching his mother struggle to provide for him and his five siblings. Wanting to provide a better life for her and his family, Ignacio joined the military with intentions of buying his mother a house. Tragically, he did not get the chance to fulfill this promise – his mother was killed in a car accident five days before his birthday and two months before he left for basic training. Two years later, Army Specialist Arriaga went on his first tour to Afghanistan.

On Nov. 22, 2010, six months into his first deployment, SPC Arriaga experienced another life-changing event. While serving as a mechanic with the 2nd Stryker Calvary Regiment, SPC Arriaga became paralyzed from the neck down in a vehicle rollover.

Medically retired, Ignacio has since regained some use of his arms and relearned how to do things for himself, but still faces many obstacles in his current home. He longs to be more self-sufficient, and often gets discouraged while doing daily tasks because he cannot reach the cabinets and the countertops are too high. He is constantly damaging the doorways with his wheelchair because they are too narrow.

Regaining his independence in an HFOT home will boost Ignacio’s confidence to pursue his goals of studying engineering to become a mechanic, and learning Japanese. He will also have time to enjoy his other activities which include shooting, woodworking, fishing, drag racing, and working on his car. The home’s adaptations will relieve much of the burden on his caregiver and his siblings who also live with him. “I am grateful for anything that makes it easier for my caregivers,” Ignacio says.

Ignacio is choosing to have his home built in Florida because of the great weather and opportunities to watch racing.

Ignacio says he feels proud HFOT’s donors and supporters take care of the military. “It really means a lot to me when we have the support of the people I would gladly return to duty to protect.”