Despite hearing reports about the difficulties combat veterans have adapting to life back home, it is impossible to really understand the scope of those difficulties unless you have experienced it yourself. Try to imagine, though, coming home from being critically injured in combat to find that your home, the place you’d been working hard to return to, is no longer the haven you remember. The doorways are too narrow for your wheelchair, the bathroom and kitchen are now filled with hazards and routine tasks like making a sandwich are a struggle. It may begin to feel like your home has become a different kind of war zone.
This is a heartbreak that Jared Allen’s Homes for Wounded Warriors (“JAH4WW”) is trying to correct. Jared Allen, a defensive end for the Minnesota Vikings, participated in a USO trip to U.S. military bases in the Middle East a couple of years ago with other representatives from the NFL. Inspired by the dedication and sacrifices made by the soldiers he met, Allen founded JAH4WW in October of 2009. He is also inspired by his family, many of whom have served in the military, including his grandfather and brother.
An avid outdoorsman and motor enthusiast, Allen has channeled his passions into fundraising opportunities for his organization, a nonprofit based in Scottsdale, Arizona. Last spring, Paul Jr. Designs (that’s Paul Teutul, of American Chopper fame) unveiled a custom tribute bike custom-made to raise money for JAH4WW. You can buy t-shirts depicting the bike on the organization’s website.
On December 3rd, the organization put on a car show and silent auction in conjunction with several sponsors; all entry fees went toward funding the JAH4WW mission. Allen has also hosted golf tournaments, including last summer’s second annual “Night Ops” tournament. With the flair Jared brings to other aspects of his life, the event included members of the Arizona National Guard screaming like drill sergeants as participants teed off.
JAH4WW recently announced the identity of the next recipient of a home remodel. Private First Class Joshua Bullis was deployed to the Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan in April 2010 when he stepped on a buried improvised explosive device (IED) during a routine patrol. As a result of the blast, PFC Bullis lost both legs above the knee and his left arm above the elbow. The complete remodel of his home will include ramps, wider doors and hallways, and custom bathrooms and kitchen to accommodate his wheelchair. There will also be changes to his garage to allow easy access to his custom vehicle, and an outdoor patio.
Organizations like Jared’s are so wonderful because they not only fulfill a real need, but they let our servicemen and women know how much their sacrifices are truly appreciated.
For more information, including ways you can help this worthwhile cause, visit the JAH4WW website at http://www.jaredallen69inc.com/h4ww/mission.html. To find out ways you can help local veterans and active soldiers by volunteering or making donations to charities like Jared’s, contact your local VA facility or local USO; you can find your local USO Center at www.uso.gov.