SGT Brandon Rethmel

Punta Gorda, FL

Brandon Rethmel was in ninth grade living only 30 minutes away from the Pentagon during the 9/11 terrorists’ attacks. Witnessing the events happen so close to home motivated Brandon to serve in the military. He joined the Army as a motor transport operator deploying to Afghanistan in 2009.

On June 21, 2009, Sergeant Rethmel was serving with the 704th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, when a 107mm rocket hit his guard shack. SGT Rethmel lost his right leg and sustained right arm limb salvage in the blast.

Brandon spent a year undergoing treatment at Walter Reed Medical Center. He credits much of his progress to his physical therapist who pushed him to do his best.

Medically retired, Brandon and his wife Sylvia now have three children: Mariah, Trey, and Marcus. He loves fishing and is involved with the nonprofit, Operation Heroes Support (OHS), which was started by fellow HFOT Veteran, Army Sergeant Charles “Doug” Harris.

Though he has made significant progress in his recovery, there are unavoidable challenges Brandon must face. He can walk up the stairs on his prosthetic but some days it’s a challenge, and he realizes his mobility will decline as he ages, especially if he cannot use his wheelchair within his home. Receiving a specially adapted custom Homes For Our Troops home will give Brandon more freedom, which will benefit both his physical and emotional health. “On days that I cannot be on my prosthetic, I will be able to wheel myself outside to water plants or play with my kids without feeling like a burden, because my wife would have to carry my wheelchair outside and back inside,” he says.

Additionally, the home will enable Brandon and Sylvia to fully focus on their children’s futures. Currently, Brandon is a stay-at-home dad while Sylvia finishes nursing school.

Originally from Western New York, Brandon is choosing to build his home in Florida for the warmer climate and the ample opportunities to do his favorite activity: fishing.

Brandon says he and his family greatly appreciate the time and effort that will go into the building of their forever home. “I have seen firsthand from another recipient how these homes improve an injured Veteran’s life. Saying I’m very appreciative is an understatement; it’s amazing that so many great people can come together and change lives.”

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