Homes for Our Troops (HFOT), a national nonprofit organization, broke ground for its latest building project in Fallbrook in an unusual place on Dec. 17.
The location of the future specially-adapted home for Marine Private First Class Isaac Blunt is on Avenida de Nog, but heavy rains a few days prior to the groundbreaking event caused it to be moved to Christ the King Lutheran Church on South Stage Coach Lane.
Even so, hundreds of people turned out for the ceremony to meet and welcome PFC Blunt. According to HFOT, which has built 226 homes since the organization’s inception in 2004, the groundbreaking ceremony signifies the start of the build process and introduces the severely-injured veteran to the community.
On June 13, 2011, PFC Blunt, a rifleman with the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, was on patrol when he stepped on a pressure plate improvised explosive device (IED) in Sangin, Afghanistan. The blast resulted in the loss of both his legs, his left eye, and several fingers on his left hand.
Now medically retired, PFC Blunt has not let his injuries hold him back. He has taken up mountaineering as part of his recovery, often climbing some of the tallest peaks in the world. He also plays wheelchair basketball on Balboa Medical Center’s team, Wolf Pack.
The home being built in Fallbrook for PFC Blunt will feature more than 40 major special adaptations such as widened doorways for wheelchair access, a roll-in shower, and kitchen amenities that include pull-down shelving and lowered countertops. The home will also alleviate the mobility and safety issues associated with a traditional home, including navigating a wheelchair through narrow hallways or over thresholds, or reaching for cabinets that are too high.
With the stability of a mortgage-free house, his daughter will have a place she can call “home.” The special adaptations PFC Blunt is most looking forward to are the pull-down cabinets and lower countertops, making it easier for him to reach appliances while in his wheelchair.
Originally from Wisconsin, PFC Blunt chose to have his home built in California to be near the VA and his sister who lives in Redding.
PFC Blunt would like HFOT’s supporters to know their donations are going to a good cause and this home will make a difference in his daily life. “The service you provide to make our lives easier is beyond words,” he said.
HFOT has hired Youngren Construction to build these specially adapted homes. Fallbrook resident Scott Youngren, along with the HFOT team, have worked together to improve the process for their building projects across the country.
PFC Blunt’s home will be Youngren Constructions 17th build for HFOT in Southern California, and the fourth home built for HFOT in Fallbrook. The next build is coming up in Temecula for CPL Christopher Van Etten.
HFOT operates solely on contributions from donors, supporters, and corporate partners which fund the building of each veteran’s home. Community members can hold fundraisers or make donations. To learn more about getting involved or making a donation, visit www.hfotusa.org.