In This Issue:

HFOT’s New Look

Have you seen our new website? Check it out at www.hfotusa.org!

What you can expect in the weeks ahead at www.hfotusa.org: More interactive content and resources for you and your family including build updates, videos, news items, and links to share with others that showcase the great work being done by HFOT all over the country.  

Coming Soon! Veteran Forum: In the coming weeks, HFOT will also be adding several new features to our website including an HFOT Veterans Only Page (Password Protected) where you’ll be able to meet and interact with the HFOT staff and obtain valuable resources, connect with another HFOT buddy, or look up an opportunity to Pay It Forward at an HFOT fundraiser event or speaking event. Let us know what you think!

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Veterans Corner: Marco Robledo 

by Patty Catalano

Marco_RobledoAfter Marco Robledo lost his left leg and his left arm in 2007 in an IED explosion in Iraq, life became a series of adaptations. Originally left-handed, he learned to use his right hand to write, draw, and work on cars. Additionally, the prosthetic appliances that he uses in place of his missing limbs have allowed him to stay active and enjoy Scuba diving, running, swimming and devoting time to help others.

Robledo recently found the perfect opportunity to help others adapt to life as an amputee, too; he’s interning at an orthotics and prosthetics clinic in Silver Springs, Md. He works at the clinic’s in-house fabrication facility, which provides prosthetic sockets to amputee patients, including injured veterans recovering at Walter Reed. The facility also services civilians, too.

So far, Robledo and the job have been, well, a perfect fit.

“I work about 16 to 20 hours a week for the time being,” says Robledo, who’s majoring in psychology at University of Maryland’s University College. “Usually I fabricate sockets, mostly cutting and trimming,” he says. In short, Robledo’s job is to mold a patient’s cast and turn it into a carbon socket, which can then be fastened to a prosthetic device. “If we don't have much going on, we can produce a few sockets a day,” he says.

Robledo completes all of his work under the supervision of a technician, who oversees him in the lab doing everything from mixing chemicals to pouring plaster. When time allows, Robledo’s given the opportunity to experiment and devise his own sockets. (See photos). During these occasions, he’s able to hone his on-the-job skills and complete the entire phase of fabrication. 

socketRobledo typically comes in after the practitioner has made an impression of the patient’s residual limb. The mold is left to dry and a quarter inch pipe is placed inside the plaster mold, which Robledo rinses with soapy water and then filled with plaster. Once the plaster dries, Robledo removes the mold and buffs out any unwanted bumps, dimples, or cracks. Then he’ll take a sheet of plastic from a special oven and drape it over the mold, which is then vacuumed to remove any trapped air. The plastic is then cooled and smoothed over, becoming the patient’s new “prosthetic socket.” (The mold is kept in case any modifications are needed or in case multiple sockets are requested at a future time.) The socket is then given to the practitioner and the patient is fitted; if it’s a perfect fit, the socket is then attached to a prosthetic for the patient (see image on right).

Robledo says he is grateful for the experience of his internship because it is providing work history for his resume. Even beyond that experience, though, he feels the work he’s doing is more than “a job.”  Knowing that the amputee may go on to resume his or her normal every day activities or take up running or biking with the new prosthetic gives him immense pride and a chance to witness some cool results from his work. “Seeing the patients walk in their prosthetics as beginners, and then watching their eventual progress…it’s pretty great."     

Marco received his specially adapted home in May 2013. Marco continues to pay it forward for HFOT and other veterans by making several appearances at Groundbreakings and speaking on behalf of HFOT at various corporate events. Last year he attended The International Builders' Show (IBS) in Las Vegas. Thanks for all you do, Marco!

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2013 HFOT Veteran (Orientation) Conferences  

by Maura Yanosick, HFOT Program Intake Supervisor

The months of April and July marked two quarterly orientation conferences hosted by the HFOT staff, for a total of 16 veterans and their family members. Both sessions, with each lasted three days, were held at Patriot Place in Foxborough, Mass, marking the first phase in the journey to becoming HFOT home recipients. During the conferences, HFOT staff members presented workshops on various topics including home ownership and maintenance, fiscal responsibility and financial planning, and communicating with media throughout all phases of the home-build projects. HFOT would like to welcome these outstanding and truly deserving groups of veterans and their families to the HFOT community! The final conference of 2013 will be held during the first week of September.


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Third Annual Bush Center Warrior 100K Mountain Bike Ride 

Courtesy of the George W. Bush Institute

Warrior_100KEach spring, approximately 20 servicemen and women wounded in the global war on terror join President George W. Bush for a 100-kilometer mountain bike ride. Part of the Bush Institute's Military Service Initiative, the W100K highlights the bravery and sacrifice of warriors and recognizes organizations that support America’s heroes. The 3rd Annual Bush Center Warrior 100K mountain bike ride took place May 23-25, 2013, near Waco, Texas.  Among the riders this year was future HFOT home recipient Staff Sergeant Matthew P. DeWitt.

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Just For Veterans

Uniform for Success - FREE Suits for Veterans

The Gary Sinise Foundation would like to help you and our nation’s veterans reenter the civilian work force. One essential component to confidence in the workplace is a professional wardrobe, which is why they’ve teamed up with Jos. A. Bank, to provide a free suit to qualifying veterans and service members through this national promotion. In order to qualify for a Jos. A. Bank free suit, you must provide the proper documentation. Please fax or email a DD214 form, a statement of service if you are still active duty, or you can also make a copy of the front and back of your military ID. Please email to: contact@garysinisefoundation.org or fax to (818) 432.8999.

The suits will be distributed on a first come, first served basis, so please submit your information in a timely fashion. Please keep in mind that the voucher MUST be redeemed at a Jos A. Bank location before the expiration date, November 11, 2013. You will want to submit your documentation as soon as possible, so that you are eligible to participate in the program.

Additionally, please include your full name as it appears on your identification, your address, city, state, and zip code along with your best contact phone number and email address. If you have any additional questions, please email: contact@garysinisefoundation.org.

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HFOT Veterans Beasting It Up!

Joe-Beimfohr-cyclingJustin_RAAMCongratulations to Joe Beimfohr for competing in the Sadler's Alaska Challenge handcycle race! This Alaskan stage race begins in Fairbanks and travels to Anchorage, and is held bi-annually (odd years). Joe placed third. Hooah, Joe! (Joe received his specially adapted home in May of 2013.)

And congrats to Paul Schaus and Josh Sweeney for making the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team!  Way to go Paul and Josh! Check out this video of HFOT future home recipient, Josh Sweeney, who will defend the US National Sled Hockey Team’s title at the Sochi (Russia) 2014 Winter Paralympics Games, March 2-15, 2014.  http://abcnews.go.com/US/video/wounded-marine-rising-star-sled-hockey-19753147

Future HFOT home recipient Justin Gaertner (FL.) completed the Race Across America (RAAM) Bicycle Race. Justin hand-cycled 3,000 miles over 7 days, 12 hours and 21 minutes.  

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Yard & Lawn Tips for HFOT Home Owners, The Grass Is Always Greener if You Take Care of It!  

by Chris Mitchell, HFOT Project-based Fundraising Coordinator

The mowing height depends on the weather conditions and the type of turf you are cutting. Always raise the mowing height during hot, dry conditions. Higher cut turf helps avoid drought stress by keeping the soil temperature cooler due to the shading effect. Higher cut turf also makes it difficult for young weeds to grow and establish. We recommend 3" as a standard height during the summer months. Early in the mowing season and later in the year you can lower the mower deck. Turf grass should be mowed frequently enough so that no more than 1/3 of the leaf blade is removed. Scalping or cutting too short weakens the grass plant, allowing weeds and unwanted grasses to fill in the thin areas. If you are unsure about your cutting height, look at the mowing pass you just made and compare it to the uncut grass. You will have no trouble identifying a scalped lawn.

Proper watering is deep watering. Light watering forces the grass roots to grow upwards towards the moisture. Deep penetrating watering moves the water down to where the root zone is. Generally, your lawn needs about 1.5 - 2 inches of water per week to stay healthy and strong. A simple rain gauge ($2-$10) will help you determine quantity of precipitation. The first sign of drought stress is wilting and generally dull appearance. During drought stress, your lawn is very susceptible to insect and diseases. Also, do not wait until your lawn turns brown before you start watering. Understand drought stress symptoms and begin your efforts early on.

About Chris Mitchell: In addition to serving as HFOT’s Project-based Fundraising Coordinator, Chris was the owner of a landscape company.

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HFOT Household Financial Management Tips

by Tom Benoit, HFOT Chief Financial Officer
The Importance of a Will

One of the most important, yet overlooked, areas of long-term financial planning has nothing to do with money.

It’s your will.

A will is simply a legal document in which you, the testator, declare who will manage your estate after you die. Your estate can consist of big, expensive things such as a home, but also small items that might hold sentimental value such as photographs. The person named in the will to manage your estate is called the executor because he or she executes your stated wishes. Someone designated to receive any of your property is called a "beneficiary."


Some types of property, including certain insurance policies and retirement accounts, generally aren't covered by wills. You should've listed beneficiaries when you took out the policies or opened the accounts. Check if you can't remember, and make sure you keep beneficiaries up to date, since what you have on file dictates who receives those assets.

A will can also serve to declare whom you wish to become the guardian for any minor children (under 18) or dependents, and whom you want to receive specific items that you own. Without a will, those critical decisions can be left up to either the government or to the family. Having those decisions made by the remaining family might sound good, but it can actually be very difficult. Even in the best of circumstances, the family members are dealing with the emotional difficulties of facing life without you, and it can be a huge strain for them to have to make these decisions. Even worse, in cases where there may be extended family “strains”, or where children from prior marriages are involved, it becomes even more difficult and stressful.  Family disagreements can end up causing untold harm to long term relationships, and can even end up in court.

Take control of your future – and the future of your family – by writing a will if you do not have one, or reviewing a will if you have one you have not looked at for many years. The laws governing wills vary from state to state. If you aren't familiar with them, consider consulting a knowledgeable lawyer or estate planner in your area. All wills must meet certain standards such as being witnessed to be legally valid. Again, requirements vary from state to state. You can either use an attorney, or you can use an online program to create a will.  The more complex the situation, the better it is to have an attorney, but even a simple, online-generated will is MUCH better than no will at all.

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 HFOT Build Activity This Quarter

5/11/13 Army SSG Joseph Beimfohr  Key Ceremony  Tampa, FL
5/18/13 Marine Cpl Kevin Dubois Groundbreaking Burrillville, RI 
5/18/13 Marine Sgt Marshall Kennedy Volunteer Day Fayetteville, AR
5/18/13 Army SGT David Mayer Key Ceremony Corona, CA
5/18/13 Army SSG Luke Murphy Groundbreaking Tallahassee, FL
6/1/13 Army SPC Justin Perez-Gorda Groundbreaking Dripping Springs, TX
6/1/13 Marine Cpl Brandon Rumbaugh Groundbreaking Uniontown, PA
6/15/13 Marine Cpl Tony Mullis Key Ceremony Hawkinsville, GA
6/15/13 Marine Cpl Michael Boucher Groundbreaking Hawkinsville, GA
6/22/13 Marine Sgt Jordan Maynard Groundbreaking Cottonwood, AZ
6/22/13 Marine Sgt Zachary Stinson Groundbreaking Chambersburg, PA
6/23/13 Marine Cpl Jeffrey Kessler Groundbreaking Rising Sun, MD
7/13/13 Army SGT Aaron Jolly Groundbreaking Eaton Rapids, MI
7/14/13 Marine Cpl Chris Montgomery Key Ceremony Mobile, AL
7/20/13 Marine Cpl David Noblit Groundbreaking Elysburg, PA
7/20/13 Marine Sgt Gabe Martinez Groundbreaking Parker, CO

Just in case you missed seeing the video featuring HFOT’s first quarter highlights, click here to view the video.  

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 HFOT Veterans Paying It Forward

As a non-profit organization that strives to provide the level of services that we do, HFOT is reliant on the assistance of countless volunteers, including our veterans and their families, to advance its cause throughout the country. The countless hours you give of time and talent, whether it be holding or attending a fundraiser, or speaking at an event to raise awareness about HFOT, all go a long way to bolster support for what we do. Homes for Our Troops would like to extend a big thank you to the following individuals for helping advance its mission:

Jeffery_Cara_AshleyJeffery Williams has been busy representing HFOT at several Groundbreaking events, including the ceremonies held for LCpl Benjamin Maenza and SPC Andrew Wilson in Tennessee, Cpl James “Michael” Boucher in Hawkinsville, Ga., and most recently for Cpl David Noblit in Elysburg, Pa. When it comes to delivering a heartfelt speech to his fellow veterans and attendees about the benefits and independence that a specially adapted home from HFOT can bring, Jeffery never disappoints to inspire and amaze his listeners. But it’s really Jeffery’s optimism and perpetual smile that really make him a pleasure to get to know and be around. (And did we mention he is one sharp dresser and wears the coolest shoes?) Thank you Jeffery for all you do! Jeffery received his specially adapted home in Huntsville, Ala., in November 2011. If you’re on Facebook- look him up!                    

Revved up to Help HFOT
NASCAR2013HFOT home recipient Travis Wood and future home recipient Brett Bondurant came out to represent HFOT courtesy of Cargill Beef. Cargill has joined forces with Homes for Our Troops and is sponsoring “Help a Hero Come Home” to raise money in support of Homes for Our Troops’ mission to provide specially adapted homes-at no cost-to severely injured veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Additionally, as part of the campaign, a special paint scheme appeared on the No.6 Cargill Beef Ford Mustang driven by Fenway Racing’s Trevor Bayne on June 28, 2013, in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at the Kentucky Speedway.

HFOT home recipient Travis Wood (L) and future home recipient Brett Bondurant ( R ) pose with NASCAR race driver Trevor Bayne (center). 

Ivonne_ThompsonIvonne Thompson recently attended the Houston Summer Brew Off Fundraiser and spoke to the crowd about Homes for Our Troops. Specifically, Ivonne talked about how the specially adapted home that she received from HFOT in January 2011 in Houston, Texas, has helped her and her husband Anthony Thompson. Ivonne is always happy to Pay It Forward for HFOT and we appreciate all she does!   

Future HFOT recipient David Noblit attended the “Vetstock” event on July 5-6 in Milford PA. 9-year old Sam Wilshinsky raised $500 for David Noblit’s project selling  jewelry from spent bullet casings that he collects from local ranges.

A big thank you also goes out to these veterans who celebrated the following milestones with their fellow HFOT veterans:

And kudos to the following individuals for their fundraising efforts!

Upcoming HFOT veteran fundraisers:

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by Cara Yanosick, HFOT Fundraiser Events Coordinator

Joe_Beimfohr_PVAArmy Ten Miler
Brian Jergens is handcycling in the ATM13 for TEAM HFOT on October 20, 2013 in Arlington, VA.

Marine Corps Marathon
Justin Gaertner is hand-cycling for TEAM HFOT in the Marine Corps Marathon on October 27, 2013 in Arlington, VA!

Good luck with your training, Justin and Kevin!

2014 Walt Disney World Marathon
Team HFOT will be running in the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend in January 2014!! If you’re interested in being a part of this event, please go to www.homesforourtroops.org/WDW14 to sign up. Please register soon! We have a very limited number of spots. There are two race events that we have spots in:

  • Marathon
  • Goofy Race & a Half Challenge (Half Marathon on Saturday & Full Marathon on Sunday)

The fundraising minimum for this event is $500. You will receive an awesome team shirt to wear during the race, and you’ll get other benefits such as discounted Disney hotel rooms and park tickets. You’ll also be part of a really great team that will include hand-cyclists from across the globe - we have 10 cyclists from the Allied Forces Foundation joining Team HFOT!

Army Ten Miler 2013
We also still have spots in the Army Ten-Miler . Feel free to forward these links to any friends/family who may be interested in joining Team HFOT! Questions? Contact Cara Yanosick, HFOT Fundraising Coordinator at cyanosick@hfotusa.org.

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 HFOT Baby News

Logan_Edward_Isaacsonjergens_babyLogan Edward Isaacson (pictured left) was born to Chuck and Brenda Isaacson on May 25th.  He was 11 days early and was born in the ER in 3 minutes! Logan joins big sister Kylee who turned two in April. The Isaacsons live in their HFOT home in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin.

Jackson Christopher Jergens (pictured right) was born on Sunday, July 28, 2013 to Brian and Jennifer Jergens. He is the couple’s first child and weighed 7 lbs 9 oz and measured 20.5 inches long. The Jergens are expected to move into their specially adapted home in Hollister, CA. sometime in early 2014.

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