Homes for our Troops

homes for our troops

Extreme Makeover Home Edition: There aren’t to many TV shows that really hit me emotionally.  The one that always does me in every time is Extreme Makeover Home Edition with Ty Pennington.  It’s just a wonderful show about people helping other deserving families in need.  The latest show I watched (probably a re-run) on CMT was about the Extreme Makeover crew helping to build an adaptive home for a soldier who lost both of his legs in Iraq.  The adaptive home was built with the help of an organization called Homes for Our Troops.   I’d like to paste in the “about us” section of their web site:

Homes for Our Troops is a non-profit, non-partisan 501 (c)(3) organization founded in 2004. This organization is strongly committed to helping those who have selflessly given to their country and have returned home with serious disabilities and injuries. We assist severely injured Servicemen and Women and their immediate families by raising donations of money, building materials and professional labor and coordinating the process of building a new home or adapting an existing home for handicapped accessibility.

*All services provided by Homes for Our Troops are at no cost to the veterans we serve.

The Homes for Our Troops web site has includes some wonderful pictures and videos of homes that were built for our severely injured troops returning from the Middle East.  I hope you’ll take a few minutes to check out their web site and see all the wonderful work this organization is accomplishing for our wounded warriors.

Sam’s medical status:

One of my very favorite sayings comes from former President Dwight D Eisenhower; “What counts is the size of the fight in the dog, not the size of the dog in the fight”. I’m not sure in what context he was
speaking…could have been Vietnam; as his was the first administration that sent advisors to the troubled, but little democracy in Southeast Asia…He knew that this tiny little country would be no match for the North with Russia’s and China’s influence. Yet he was impressed with their resolve and he deemed them worthy of America’s assistance to ensure their survival. As we know that war dragged on for decades, becoming very unpopular as we continued to sacrifice our young men and women. Sound familiar? Yeah, I’m speaking of Iraq; but that isn’t what this is about, and I don’t want to waste my precious space in print discussing something so controversial to most Americans. This is about a single Marine along with his comrades in arms that have sacrificed much for their country and it’s people.

As I visited with Sam this last Saturday, I had several hours of one on one time with him. He likes to be read to, he likes questions to test his memory and knowledge; but most of all he loves stories. No matter what I offer, whether it be reading, T.V., or just chatting, He’ll always opt for a story. I never have to make them up as he is interested in the real deal…The Old Testament is full of action heroes like Samson, David, Joshua, and the like. He likes Marine Corps history and it’s relative heroes like Chesty Puller, Samuel and William H Nichols. Most of all he loves to hear about his restoration and discharge from the hospital. He loves the idea of coming home and resuming his life. We discuss how that will look, where he will live, what he will do for a living, how many kids he will have, and other very germane subjects. One thing comes through to me over and over again, and that is His dogged determination to make that happen. I can see it in his face, his eyes, and by the enthusiasm he approaches the very thought of it. The size of the “fight” in this dog is huge. His efforts, though usually silent, are large enough to deafen a brass band. I gain strength from just being around Him and Erin. My faith is renewed in his seemingly never ending source of intestinal fortitude.

For many months I thought I was bringing Sam the Holy Spirit; but  the Lord has taken up residence there to the point of being a refueling spot for me Sam with new pic line from Marin General_11_28_08and for other visitors that come to see them. There is no other explanation for the great comfort, refreshment, and restoration that their visitors feel when being there. Of course I know the Lord is not confined to time and place, but his favor is upon Sam and Erin, and that evidence shows up to me through Sam’s incredible desire to get well. This first picture shows Sam in his bed and how he grips the side rail to move himself about. Notice the new pic line under his right arm that he had installed before leaving Marin General. He has a “trapeze” ordered which he likes to use to pull himself up and about. That is Sam’s smile for now…

Sam’s occupational therapist, Kate, made this statement on Saturday. She said he must have been so “buff’ before his accident to have so much muscle tone after 16 months. He had just done 2 sets of 15 reps of an exercise that she had him doing with his right arm. God is maintaining him so that when the time is right, he’ll be able to walk out of there. Erin’s b’day was on Saturday, (25) (I think she looks 18) Ha! She got to spend the day with her Mom and Dad, but called me to see how her baby was doing. After Sam was readied for bed by the night shift, he was looking very sleepy as we had been visiting the whole day so I thought sleep was near. I asked him if he wanted to say Happy Birthday to Erin before he nodded off. It was like someone had turned on a light switch. His eyes popped open and when he saw the cell phone come out began to adjust himself in bed with sheer
respect knuckles with Sam and Eric_11_29_08_Kentfield anticipation of his call to his sweetie. When I had Erin on the phone, I got to hear his first word of the day. He said Happy Birthday to her and it made her day. (Mine too) He tried several times to say that He loved her, but only managed to mouth the words…I was a witness to those words and they meant a great deal to Erin on her Birthday. She was feeling kind of blasé about her time in Sacramento and being away from Sam, but that short, 30 second phone call gave her peace to enjoy her time with those that care very deeply for her.

Sam quickly tired after that, but not before offering me what Erin refers to “respect knuckles”. See the second picture as his hand meets mine. It melts my heart and I smother him with kisses before I go…Loving and gentle, but full of a fierce fight…sounds like a paradox, but it’s not….

Much love,


7 Responses to Homes for our Troops

  1. Kris Abbruzzi says:

    Hey there Sam, Erin & Families!!

    First of all, HAPPY BIRTHDAY ERIN!!!! 25?!?! I’m with you Eric, Erin you don’t look a day over 18. Someday you will appreciate that, TRUST ME. Recently I was in a store to buy wine for a party and the clerk asked me for ID. Holy smokes was I excited – I was throwing all sorts of ID at him! It used to be a hassle but when you start hearing “ma’am” at the store it turns into a compliment when something like that happens!

    This post, like most of your posts, brought tears of happiness, hope and miracles. Sam, the pictures of you recently really show YOU. You don’t look “far away” any more. I don’t know how to describe it! I guess what I’m really trying to say is that you are looking GREAT. You’re getting there Sam, you’ve got the fight in you like there is no tomorrow. You and Erin are both so strong, so determined, so courageous, so Faithful. You guys are my inspiration every single day – and I live plum across the country – I cannot imagine the power and the Faith in God that one must feel while in your presence. Boy I’d love to meet you and shake your hands some day!

    God bless you Sam, Erin and your families. Thoughts, prayers, support and load upon load of Angel Hugs are ALWAYS coming your way! HUGS.

    PS – HFOT is a WONDERFUL organization. They change lives!

    – Kris, a Soldiers’ Angel from RI

  2. Lynne says:

    Hi Sam, Erin and Eric,

    I am so glad Sam is continuing to heal. I know it is a very long and challenging process. My oldest son was wounded in Afghanistan in August. He experienced two IED explosions, resulting in two TBI injuries. The second one also blew him out of his humvee, resulting in multiple compound fractures of his left leg. He is still in a wheelchair, but is beginning to put a little weight on his leg. This promises to be a long haul, but we hope he will get back to at least 90% normal ability in his left leg and fully recover cognitively, as well.

    I was able to help him welcome home his buddies from Afghanistan on Sunday night in 29 Palms. Many of the wounded from his company were on-hand to welcome the company back, too. So many brave young men have given so much for the rest of us. If America truly knew what they were giving, maybe they would understand the sacrifices needed to keep freedom alive in the U.S.A. Not one person present would have said any of their wounds were made in vain.

    Please give Sam and Erin a big “Semper Fi” from the Hanson/Guest/Van Trieste family.
    Semper fidelis,

  3. Lori Peoria says:

    I have the utmost respect for your family! I wish I could put a picture of my knuckles on here. 🙂

  4. kazzles says:

    Hi, I just came across your blog as I am recovering from a MTBI myself at the moment and have been hearing about the hight numbers of people getting brain injuries in Iraq and wondering how they are getting on. It’s a long road but I pray that Sam recovers and has the strength for the step-by-step journey.
    God bless!

  5. Caroline Bruce says:

    Hi Sam, Erin & your families,

    Glad to hear things are coming along, it’s really great hearing all the nice & positive words about everything!!! You guys are just such awesome & POSITIVE people it’s really such a great thing.

    Just want to send my love, support & prayers all the way from down under in New Zealand!!! You will have to ask Sam, when he & Erin are coming for a trip to nz.


  6. Kris Abbruzzi says:

    Hi guys,
    Just stopping by to say HEY to everyone and to let you all know that you continue to be in my thoughts and my prayers each and every day. And that you always will be!

    Hope that you are feeling well this week Sam and have been staying out of trouble! :0) God bless you Sam, Erin and your families. Thoughts, prayers, support and loads and loads of extra special angel hugs are always being sent your way!

    – Kris, a Soldiers’ Angel from RI

  7. Kris Abbruzzi says:

    Hi guys,

    I just wanted to stop by and wish you all a very Merry and Blessed Christmas and a very Happy New Year! You will all be in my thoughts and my prayers in a very special way during the Holidays. I just know that the new year will bring great things for Sam, it will bring him even closer to total Restoration, and Erin closer to several medical degrees!

    God bless you Sam, Erin, the Nichols and Neria Families. Thoughts, prayers, support and loads and loads of extra special Angel Hugs are always on their way to you!

    – Kris, a Soldiers’ Angel from RI

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