The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, established in honor of a fallen 9/11 firefighter, on Friday will welcome U.S. Army Sergeant Jason Smith and his family into their new, custom-built, mortgage-free smart home in Dunlap.
SGT Smith joined the Army in March 2009, following in the footsteps of both of his parents.
He deployed to Afghanistan on March 25, 2012.
Four months later, on July 25, he stepped on an improvised explosive device, losing both of his legs and severely damaging his arms and hands.
He spent the next seventeen months at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, first in the hospital, and then in rehab.
SGT Smith had always had a passion for exercise and fitness, and he did not let his injuries get in the way, even when his medications caused him to gain weight. His hobby became his lifestyle, a healthy outlet for him to cope with all he had experienced. “The light at the end of the tunnel was fitness for me,” he recalled.
He now works as a personal trainer for the nonprofit organization Catch a Lift, which helps post-9/11 combat veterans regain their mental and physical health through fitness, nutrition, and peer support.
He met his wife Lauren at the gym. They have two children together, five-year-old daughter Lyla and three-year-old son Barrett.
SGT Smith says he is most looking forward to the freedom his new home will provide. “To do things that are hard to do where I am now, to be able to keep up with my kids - it’s an amazing opportunity to be able to start anew.”
His new home is custom-built to help him live as independently as possible. The smart home is completely wheelchair accessible, with wide hallways, oversized doorways and hardwood floors. It features kitchen cabinet shelving designed to enable easy access to plates, cups and bowls, a mechanized lift that allows the stove to be raised and lowered to wheelchair height, customized bathrooms and automated doors and security.