Specially Designed Homes Provide Independence for Disabled Vets Thanks to Gary Sinise

Gary Sinise is a pretty amazing guy. He recently got his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his acting but history will show his greatest achievements to be the things he did to to help wounded American veterans. Chris Walker lost both arms and one leg while disarming a bomb in Afghanistan, but thanks to Sinise’s commitment to helping those who have sacrificed for our country, Walker now has a custom designed smart home that provides him and his family with greater independence.

For the first time in years, retired U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Chris Walker opened and closed the blinds on his own.

“In my (current) house, I can’t close the blinds, so if somebody opens them, they stay open until somebody else closes them,” Walker said.

But, with his brand new, custom designed smart home, Walker doesn’t have to rely on others to complete simple tasks like pulling a cord to darken a room. He can do it all on his iPad.

Walker looks forward to a simplified life, thanks to a little help from the Gary Sinise Foundation.

Founded by the actor who starred as Lt. Dan Taylor in the classic film Forrest Gump, the Gary Sinise foundation aids veterans through benefit concerts and outreach programs, among other activities since 2011. In 2012, the foundation launched its Restoring Independence Supporting Empowerment — or RISE — program, which builds or modify homes and mobility devices for severely injured veterans like Walker.

Walker didn’t always need a smart home to get around. In 2006, he was deployed to Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In his second tour, he served as a Explosive Ordnance Disposal team leader in Afghanistan. While on the job in 2012, an IED he was disarming went off, destroying both arms and his left leg, shattering facial bones, bursting an ear drum and detaching muscles in his eyes.

Each of these homes is designed specifically for the individual needs of the veteran who will live there.

Walker says he remembers the day Sinise found him at Walter Reed soon after he returned to the United States.

“I was on a lot of drugs and I had a man come in, and he was talking to me, and I really wasn’t comprehending what he was saying. But, I remember when he told me that ‘We’re going to build you a house that is yours,’” Walker said. “As time went on and I was getting better and communicating with the foundation back and forth it was like, ‘This is real. This is happening.’”

From there, the foundation moved forward with construction of the house about a year ago, making sure to talk to Walker and his family about what features would make life easiest for him. Some of those updates included a security system, lights and automatic blinds that can be controlled from an iPad, an oven with doors that open at wheelchair height, lower countertops and a therapy pool for Walker to get in shape with.

Walker isn’t the only vet to get such a home through the efforts of Forrest Gump’s Lieutenant Dan. Sinise recently talked about his foundation’s RISE program with EWTN’s Raymomd Arroyo in an emotional interview. He gets choked up while recounting how he receives texts and photos nearly every day from the wife of another vet who now lives in a custom home provided by RISE.

So far RISE has built 38 homes for severely wounded vets and 20 more are currently in the planning and design phase.