A Hinesville resident and disabled veteran will soon have his dream home, one with wide doors and an open floor plan to accommodate his needs, allowing him to live as independently as possible with his wife and three sons.
Homes for our Troops and local volunteers will team up Jan. 21-23, for a three-day build on a specially adapted home for retired Staff Sgt. Jason Letterman and his family.
“Homes for our Troops is a nonprofit organization that builds specially adapted homes for service members that have been severely injured in combat after Sept. 11, 2001, at no cost to the veterans we serve,” said Doreen Lewis-Hout, HFOT community outreach coordinator.
Letterman lost his legs, suffered traumatic brain injuries and fractured his shoulder and pelvis during an IED explosion in Farasiyah, Iraq, in May 2008, according to the HFOT website. Letterman was assigned to the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division. The former 3rd ID soldier was injured when the truck he was riding in rolled over a pressure wire, causing an explosion that threw the vehicle 20 feet into the air.
Letterman was airlifted to Landstuhl, Germany, and was later transferred to Walter Reed Army Medical for treatment, according to the website.
City workers, including firefighters, police officers and inspectors, representatives from Fort Stewart, community leaders and area volunteers will participate in the build. Last spring, Applebee’s in Hinesville held a series of pancake breakfasts to raise funds for Letterman’s new house.
“I saw the story on Facebook,” said Hinesville firefighter Robert Caslen. Caslen said he went to HFOT’s website and contacted Lewis-Hout.
“I just told Ms. Lewis I was interested in helping out,” he said. “Then I got some of the guys at the station involved.”
Caslen helped spread the word about the local HFOT build by posting fliers. Caslen said his father and brother both served in the Army, as did several Hinesville firefighters.
“He (Letterman) made a big sacrifice for us and I felt we could help him out in a small way,” Caslen said.
Jesup resident and retired GBI agent Ron Brooks also helped jumpstart the HOFT project here. Brooks helped coordinate the build by contacting city officials and the installation’s leadership.
“My wife and I have been supporters of Homes for our Troops since 2004,” he said. “I once told my wife if they were ever going to build a house locally we’d get involved.”
Brooks, a veteran of the Vietnam War, said, “We as an American people have a responsibility to take care of our veterans.”
Since Brooks had worked in law enforcement, he knew Hinesville Police Chief George Stagmeier. He took information about the Letterman home build project to the police department and then met with Mayor Jim Thomas.
Brooks said city officials worked out many of the “logistics” of the build with the military and HFOT.
“When we started off I talked to the contractors about cost,” Thomas said. “We (the city) couldn’t waive impact fees but we could waive some of the other fees so they could get the house up.”
The mayor said the city would also arrange an escort for the Letterman family to the build site next week.
The build will begin at 8:30 a.m. Friday, Jan. 21, at 857 Forrest Street in Hinesville’s Oak Crest subdivision.
“One of the (installation’s) general officers will speak at the (build) ceremony on Friday,” Thomas said.
For more information, go to www.homesforourtroops.org.