During his two deployments to Afghanistan, Marine Corporal Luke McDermott thrived off the ability to help others. He loved witnessing the positive impact he and his fellow Marines were making in a country dealing with oppression and violence. “Knowing I was making a difference keeping people safe back home in the United States was huge too, definitely the best part about serving,” he says.
His military career abruptly ended during his second deployment in June 2010, when he lost both legs in an improvised explosive device (IED) blast. His role was suddenly reversed – he was no longer the one helping others, but needed it himself. After a tough recovery process and rigorous therapy, Luke was walking on prosthetics by the end of the year.
Even with all he has endured, Luke still feels a need to continue to support communities across the world. He takes time out of his busy schedule to travel with volunteer organizations on his own dime. In April 2016, he spent two weeks teaching young children in Morocco with International Volunteer HQ. “Seeing the overall growth in learning of the kids was probably one of the best things,” he says. “Every child was eager and excited to learn, and it always put a smile on my face to walk in every morning and see the kids smiling and happy.”
The students in Morocco were not the only ones learning something; they also made a lasting impression on Luke. “These kinds of experiences always make you look at the world differently. It shows that even in a short amount of time you can still have a big impact on people’s lives,” he says.
There’s one significant drawback Luke has to deal with while going on these trips – he does not bring his wheelchair. This forces him to use his prosthetics the entire time, causing him to be sore when he returns home. Luke’s current living situation is not wheelchair accessible, so he has to continue wearing his prosthetics when he returns home from a service trip, producing even more discomfort. Having a specially adapted home from Homes For Our Troops will provide Luke with a comfortable environment at all times, and he will be able rest adequately before and after traveling. “I will be able to take a break from my prosthetics, while still being able to navigate around my house to cook and clean with no problems,” he says.
Because of all Luke has sacrificed for his country, Homes For Our Troops will award Luke with a fully accessible, mortgage-free home in upstate New York. Without the financial burden of a mortgage, Luke will be able to pursue more service trips in the future. He hopes to do at least one a year.
Learn more about Luke and find out how you can get involved in the building of his specially adapted home at www.hfotusa.org/mcdermott.