When Veterans receive a new specially adapted custom HFOT home, some of the freedom and independence they sacrificed while defending our country is restored, enabling them to focus on their family, recovery, and rebuilding their lives.

Many embrace their roles as motivational speakers, sharing their stories with classrooms and civic groups across the country. Others embark on new careers, pursue higher education, or focus their time and energy on family. Some go for gold, competing in state, national, and international sporting events. Featured here are several HFOT Veterans rebuilding their lives in profound and inspiring ways.

Priceless Memories

One of Army Sergeant Christopher Gordon’s favorite activities to do in his specially adapted Homes For Our Troops home is racing his youngest son Tristian on the 360 paved walkway outside. His son rides his trike, and Chris uses his electric wheelchair while taking laps around the home. These priceless memories Chris is making would not be possible if he did not have an adapted home. “I know for a fact that I wouldn’t have been able to do this before receiving my HFOT home,” he says.

After losing his right leg while serving in Iraq, Chris spent over a decade coping with the challenges of living in a non-accessible home. While he wears his prosthetic most of the time, it often becomes painful at the end of the day, and he prefers to use his wheelchair. Chris’ previous home could not accommodate his wheelchair, limiting what he could do within his home.

Chris received the keys to his HFOT home in Florida on April 7, 2018. Since then, he has accomplished more than he ever thought possible. The financial freedom of the home enabled him to help his oldest son Justin advance his education and attend college in New York City. He also had the time and resources to assist his sister in completing her nursing degree and licensing. Most importantly, he was able to travel to the Philippines, where he met his now wife Amy. “If I didn’t have my HFOT home, I imagine that I would not have had the financial and physical flexibility to reach these achievements. I may still have been coping with some of the physical ailments I had in my previous living environment,” he says. “I can accomplish any task as a husband and father in my home. I am not limited in domestic or recreational activities. I can do anything for my spouse and children, and that is priceless.”

Another important aspect of the home is it enables Chris to recover from continued surgeries and ailments related to his injury. Recently, he had a recurrence of severe infection in his residual limb and could not ufse his prosthetic for several months. “Because my HFOT home is so accommodating, I did not miss a beat in my daily essentials and tasks. Thankfully, I was able to have surgery, and have not dealt with the infection since.” Chris wants HFOT’s donors and supporters to know he is a prime example of Building Homes and Rebuilding Lives. “I could never fully express how grateful I am for this life-changing gift, I truly feel blessed.”

Click here to read his full story.

Paying It Forward

Michael Boucher joined the Marines in 2008 for reasons close to his heart—a deep love for his country, and a desire to carry on his family’s military legacy. A Georgia native who grew up fishing, hunting, and camping, Michael also looked forward to being pushed to his physical and mental limits.

On his first deployment to Afghanistan in 2009, Michael remembers feeling as though he was right where he needed to be. “On top of the world,” he says, reflecting on his service to his country with the 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion. It was on his second deployment to Afghanistan in 2011 when Cpl Boucher was severely injured in an improvised explosive device (IED) explosion while on foot patrol in the Sangin District. The blast resulted in the amputation of his legs above the knee and severe injuries to his left hand.

Stateside, following a sixteen-month stay at Bethesda Naval Medical Center in Maryland, Michael returned home to find his day-to-day life radically altered—in large and small ways. A simple task like boiling a pot of water became a dangerous undertaking with a stove too high to reach from his wheelchair. Narrow doorways and hallways restricted Michael’s mobility in his non-adapted home, making it difficult to move from room to room.

A Homes For Our Troops home recipient in 2013, Michael credits his specially adapted custom home with allowing him to be more independent. “I am not limited to what rooms I can use. It is a wall-to-wall house that I can get around in,” Michael says. Along with fellow Marine Veteran and HFOT home recipient Tony Mullis, Michael used his newfound freedom and independence to pay it forward. The pair co-founded Amputee Outdoors, an organization aimed at helping injured Veterans recover through outdoor activities including hunting and fishing. All-terrain chairs called Action Trackchairs allowed Veterans the freedom to venture off-road, providing the ability to traverse and maintain balance on uneven terrain. Michael and Tony ran Amputee Outdoors until 2016 when their respective parenting and family obligations took precedence.

Now a married father of three, Michael stayed involved with Action Trackchair and is currently a certified dealer, a career he thinks of as more of a passion project than a job because of how personally rewarding it is. “I love it because it’s kind of like my HFOT house—I take a product to people that unlocks the impossible in their minds. I tell my customers, this is as much for me as it is for you. Because of a chair that gets them out to the yard or out in the woods or to the beach—something that was once impossible, they realize now is doable.”

With this year marking the ten-year anniversary in his home, Michael wants HFOT’s donors and supporters to know the full scope of what their support does for injured Veterans. “There are just no words to express how the independence you get from an HFOT home gives you a mental boost. Not just the physical getting around and doing, but that mental boost of—I’m not a burden 24/7.”

Click here to read his full story.

Freedom of Movement

Motivated to enlist after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, serving his country was something Joshua Sust felt compelled to do. In 2006, after graduating high school, he joined the military. “I joined the Marines to be part of the best. To be honest, I joined to go to war. I felt it was my duty to my country.”

Deployed three times in five years, Cpl Sust was serving with Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines on November 12, 2011, in Musa Quala, Afghanistan when his vehicle drove over a pressure plate improvised explosive device (IED). The blast ejected Josh from the vehicle, resulting in severe damage to his left leg, left arm, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and hearing loss.

For over three years, doctors attempted limb salvage on his left leg. In 2015, he made the life-changing decision to amputate it below the knee.

Adjusting to day-to-day life after surgery was challenging for Josh. Unable to use his wheelchair when his leg was sore in his non-adapted, multilevel house, he was forced to use crutches to rest and recover. This magnified the challenge of negotiating the stairs to his shower and laundry room.

A 2021 recipient of an HFOT specially adapted custom home, Josh says every part of his life has been positively impacted.

“It gave me back my independence and peace of mind. Anyone that has an HFOT home knows exactly what that means—it’s a game changer in everyday life. I can stay in my chair and still do the things I need to at home like laundry, cooking, and cleaning.”

Medically retired, Josh says the biggest gift his donated HFOT home has provided is the financial freedom to spend time with his family and the ability to give back to his mother and grandparents.

“Without this home, I would not be able to host family events. We just celebrated my mom’s 60th birthday, and I am lucky to still have both my grandparents. Without the financial burden of a mortgage, I can focus my time on them.”

Josh would like HFOT’s donors and supporters to know their generosity is something he will never take for granted. He plans to pay it forward in every way he can.

“Thank you for drastically changing my life and the lives of other Veterans who have received homes. You are giving us back our independence and self-worth. Freedom of movement is something we all take for granted. Imagine waking up every day and having to think about your next step—literally. If I step here, will I fall? How will I get in the shower? With an HFOT home, that never crosses my mind. It is almost normal again. I owe you all for making my life better.”

Click here to read his full story.

A Springboard to Success

Army Captain Bobby Withers understands the importance of a home that provides a safe place to rest and recover. As an accomplished multi-sport endurance athlete, he routinely challenges his mind and body to perform at extraordinary levels.

Yet there was a time in Bobby’s life when he was on a different path, living in a house that was neither safe nor allowed the option to recover—a house he refers to as a “prison of limited possibilities”.

A recipient of the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and Army Commendation Medal with ‘V Device’ for Valor for his service as a Platoon Leader in Afghanistan, Bobby was injured on May 19, 2010, when suicide bombers attempted to infiltrate Bagram Air Base. While leading the counterattack and securing the perimeter, he stepped on an anti-personnel mine, resulting in the amputation of his right leg below the knee, and more than one hundred wounds from shrapnel—pieces of which are still currently embedded in his body.

After a complex and difficult recovery at Walter Reed Medical Center, Bobby returned to his home state of Florida to find his living arrangements posed a new set of challenges. “Living in a typical rental home was extremely restrictive and downright dangerous,” he says. “I didn’t feel like I could do much without risking an injury that would put me in my wheelchair—in a home not designed for one.” Restricted in his non-adapted, inaccessible home, Bobby’s sedentary lifestyle had a negative impact on his mental health and body.

Fortunately, Bobby’s lifestyle took a positive turn when he joined the Homes For Our Troops family. A recipient of a specially adapted custom home in 2015, he chose to build his home in Florida on a local running trail. “The adapted features of my new home—everything accessible while in my wheelchair—gave me the safety and independence I needed to pull myself out of a downward spiral and choose a new trajectory.”

This trajectory translated into Bobby swapping his sedentary life for a running blade—one that would carry him through 36 multi-sport events, two marathons, several local triathlons, and to the starting line of his second 70.3-mile Half Ironman triathlon that he recently participated in this past October.

A proud father to 18-year-old Madison and 11-year-old Keziah, Bobby credits the mortgage-free home with allowing him to give his daughters the best possible life while providing the opportunity to pay it forward in numerous ways. Since moving into his home, Bobby has coordinated hundreds of volunteers in over thirty separate events and service projects for The Mission Continues, a nonprofit organization helping Veterans adjust to civilian life. He also works as a substitute teacher, volunteers in multiple capacities, and recently received a “Getting Results” award for his work after Hurricane Maria.

Bobby would like HFOT’s donors and supporters to know their support is life-saving. “Volunteering and physical fitness saved my life and gave me a post-service legacy that my family can be proud of. Homes For Our Troops built me a safety net that I could use as a hammock or a springboard—I’m proud to have chosen the latter. Everything our enemies abroad took away from me, HFOT gave back to me, and then some. I am deeply grateful for donors like you who support and care about this mission.”

Click here to read his full story.

Going for Gold

After two years of higher education pursuing a post-secondary degree, Rebecca Mann switched gears and joined the Army as a radio technician. She found the work meaningful, as well as the camaraderie of being around a “big group of brothers.”

Her initial intention of serving a single enlistment morphed into a desire to have a military career, and she retired from the Army after eleven years of service.

“I would have finished twenty years if it wasn’t for my injury,” she says.

In March 2014, during the last month of her second tour in Afghanistan, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Mann was serving with the 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, when she sustained an injury to her right foot. She endured multiple surgeries over several years until complications led to the amputation of both of her legs.

“The constant surgeries have been incredibly difficult,” she admits. “Constantly recovering from surgery, which is painful. Then getting my life back, hitting another speed bump, and having to start all over again.”

Rebecca’s living conditions presented an additional hurdle that negatively impacted every aspect of her daily life. The painful and dangerous challenge of navigating stairs in her prosthetics often meant she was confined to the main floor of her former multilevel house. “It had stairs going into it—stairs going upstairs; stairs going downstairs. It was on a very unlevel, steep lot. I couldn’t walk out back with my dogs because I could not access the yard.”

A recipient of a specially adapted custom HFOT home in the spring of 2023, Rebecca calls her new home a “game-changer” for herself and her two pups, Sully, her Labrador Retriever service dog, and Maddie, a nine-year-old Beagle affectionately nicknamed “Beagie”. Special adaptations such as automatic doors, accessible walkways around the home, and a single-level layout allow Rebecca to navigate inside and outside the house in her prosthetics or from the comfort of her wheelchair. With the backyard now safely and easily accessible, Rebecca can care for the dogs and focus her time and energy on her interests—which are plentiful.

Captain of the Spaulding Boston Shamrocks and the U.S. Women’s National Sled Hockey Team, Rebecca recently won a gold medal in the 2023 Para Ice Hockey Women’s World Challenge. She credits the sport with being a positive outlet in difficult times. “Adaptive sports in general, specifically sled hockey, have been a huge recovery tool for me physically and mentally,” she says.

In her former home, Rebecca had difficulty accessing the gym in her basement. In her HFOT single-level home, she converted one of the extra bedrooms to a personal gym. She can now train easily and safely, and rest and recover to meet the physical demands of the many adapted sports she participates in. “Easier access to my gym allows me to have a more regimented workout schedule, and an accessible kitchen enables me to obtain better nutrition.”

A specially adapted HFOT custom home has alleviated the challenges of basic household tasks, providing Rebecca the time and opportunity to pay it forward. Rebecca is the vice president of a nonprofit organization focused on training therapy, service, and facility dogs. She is dedicated to the mission because of her personal experience. “Sully has done so much for me that the thought of helping other people the same way — there’s nothing greater than that,” she says.

Rebecca would like to thank HFOT’s donors and supporters for restoring her freedom and independence. “Receiving an adapted home from HFOT has enabled me to live safely and be independent even when I have to use my wheelchair,” she says. “I hope someday I can change someone else’s life like HFOT does for their Veterans.”

Click here to read his full story.

Impact Statements

“My HFOT home is my own bubble where I can accomplish almost anything! I look forward to returning home at the end of the day and being able to take care of everything with total independence.” – Navy PO1 Ryan Sykes

With a specially adapted home from Homes For Our Troops, he is able to easily prepare meals in a kitchen with roll-under countertops and pull-down shelves. Additionally, he is able to shower safely in an accessible bathroom. He is relieved to have accessible appliances, a functional kitchen, and complete wheelchair mobility, all of which he says enable him to put his full strength and energy into trying to walk again, and further advance his cycling training for the US Paralympics.

Ryan received his home in Grass Valley, California on January 15, 2022.

Click here to read his full story.

“What you are doing for Veterans and their families speaks volumes of your character and beliefs. How can one truly thank another for such a selfless act of kindness? You will never be forgotten.” – Army 1SG Daniel “Danny” Wallace

With the open floorplan, he has regained his freedom and plans to make it a home base for other Veterans. He feels privileged to have received the gift of a specially adapted custom home. The independence Danny has regained gives himself and his wife, Kelly, the opportunity to spend time doing things they enjoy, like traveling.

Danny received his home in Montrose, Colorado, on June 3, 2023.

Click here to read his full story.

“Your donations, no matter what the amount, will help me return to a normal life and to be a better father and husband. The freedom I gained is immense,” -Air Force MSgt Christopher Aguilera

Receiving a specially adapted custom Homes For Our Troops home gives Chris the ability to participate in daily activities, such as cooking meals for the family. The independence he has regained, combined with the financial stability of receiving a donated home, benefits Chris and Jennifer’s future, allowing them to expand their family and save for their children’s college education. Chris can now be more of a hands-on parent with the ability to care for Liam in a barrier-free environment.

Christopher received his home in Henderson, NV on September 9, 2023.

Click here to read his full story.

“My HFOT home enabled me to be more adventurous like I once was, knowing I have a safe and secure home to return to where I can relax and recoup at night,” -Marine Sgt Quentin Hamilton

The freedom and independence Quentin regained in his home allows him to further his education and career. He and Stefanie are working toward opening their own RV storage business, and expanding their hobby of making American flags out of reclaimed wood. Most importantly, Quentin can help Stefanie in caring for their children in and around the home.

Quentin received his home in Gainesville, TX on September 16, 2023.

Click here to read his full story.


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