When Army Sergeant Nathan Shumaker was first injured in 2010, concerns about his future filled his mind. Having lost his left leg while serving in Afghanistan, he worried about his career and how his injury would impact the life he and his wife Missy envisioned together.
The social worker assigned to Nathan through Veterans Affairs (VA) helped him navigate his way through recovery and his adjustment to civilian life. She was such a big influence on him, he was inspired to pursue a career in the field. “If I called her up and had questions, she was always there to help and still does to this day. I thought becoming a social worker would be a great way for me to give back to fellow Veterans,” he says.
Nathan earned his master’s degree in social work from St. Louis University in May 2018, and he is now working on his licensure. Nathan has also returned to doing the activities he loved before his injury, especially running. After much determination and hard work, he has returned to the sport using his prosthetic and often participates in 5K races and finds the activity to be beneficial in his recovery.
Though Nathan is moving forward in his professional and personal life, the challenges he experiences in his non-accessible home present much frustration. In his current two-story home, Nathan is often forced to use crutches to navigate the stairs when his prosthetic becomes too painful. This living environment hinders him from helping Missy around the home and caring for their two children. “I get really down on myself when I can’t do things independently. I know it puts a lot of stress on the family,” he says.
It is hard for Missy to watch her husband struggle. “No one sees what Nate goes through on a daily basis more than I do. Most people see him happy and wearing his prosthetic every day. What they don’t see is him when he can’t wear it. It is very frustrating for him when he is unable to wear his prosthetic in our current home,” she says.
Missy and Nathan were overjoyed when they found out Homes For Our Troops was building and donating a specially adapted custom home to them. “It brings tears to my eyes to think about how much stress will be taken off Nathan when we move into our home. He will no longer be in pain from wearing his leg all day long and will not have to worry about stairs. He will be able to safely help our kids from his wheelchair whenever I am not home,” Missy says.
The Shumaker Family’s build is especially significant – it will be HFOT’s 300th home. They will receive the keys to their home in Hillsboro, Missouri, this year. “We are very excited to be a part of the HFOT Family to begin with, let alone be the 300th home. I am so happy and thrilled to be a part of this milestone and cannot wait to celebrate,” Nathan says.
Nathan says he cannot thank HFOT’s donors and supporters enough for this life-changing gift. “Without all of you, this would not be possible. Thank you for giving me some of my freedom back and giving me a safe environment to raise my family in. I am forever grateful for your support.”
Follow the progress of Nathan’s project at www.hfotusa.org/shumaker.