Growing Together: One Father’s Journey from House to Home

Categories: Blog, Home

Marine Cpl Zach Nelson and his wife Kiley always knew they wanted to be parents. A young couple with a future full of promise, they were fresh out of high school when Zach enlisted in the Marine Corps, serving as a motor transport specialist with the 6th Regimental Combat Team. Six months into Zach’s first mission in Afghanistan, Kiley received a phone call informing her that Zach had been involved in an accident, his injuries leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.

Stateside, after months of physical and occupational therapy, Zach’s primary concerns were how he would care for himself independently, as well as how he might care for his home and family. Zach and Kiley’s non-adapted rental home provided daily challenges with narrow hallways and doorways. A series of steps lining the front and back doors meant Zach could only enter the house through the garage on a ramp built by his friends.

In 2016, Zach and Kiley received a specially adapted custom home from Homes For Our Troops, providing them with a sense of security, independence, and comfort that Zach says he never thought possible. Describing their HFOT home as their own “personal haven”, Zach and Kiley finally felt confident in their ability to care for children. They welcomed their first child, Camden, in 2019, and their second son, Beckham, in 2023.

Zach credits his HFOT home with allowing him to be a hands-on dad. When he’s not working as a 911 dispatcher, he’s home enjoying the nightly routines of parenthood—cooking dinner, bathing the kids, and putting them to bed. Three-month-old Beckham enjoys cuddling with his dad on the couch, while four-year-old Camden loves to play outside, either riding his bike or driving his Power Wheels Jeep. When asked about his favorite thing about being a father, Zach shares that he loves watching his sons grow and learn new things, but it’s also bittersweet. “I want time to slow down and for them to stay little,” he admits. “But it’s awesome to witness all of their new milestones.”

Zach would like HFOT’s donors to know the impact of their support and generosity. “My home not only provides me with somewhere to live safely and independently, but it also is a place where I will raise my children and make many memories with my family.”

Thank you for providing injured Veterans like Zach the invaluable gift of parenting in a barrier-free environment.

Happy Father’s Day from Homes For Our Troops.