SANTA ROSA BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) – Today marks a new beginning for a Walton County wounded veteran.
Retired Air Force Staff Sergeant Brian Schiefer just moved into his brand new home, customized and gifted to him by The Gary Sinise Foundation.
In 2008, Schiefer’s life was turned upside down.
“I had the humvee roll over and it ejected me, ripped off my seatbelt, ripped off my door,” Schiefer said. “It ended up breaking my back in about eight different places, collapsed both my lungs, broke two ribs.”
Schiefer was paralyzed. He spent years in and out of hospitals, endured more than 35 reconstructive surgeries, and countless hours in therapy.
He said his lifestyle completely changed.
“Going from being very independent doing everything on my own I don’t need anyone to now I have literally my friends carry me around after shoulder reconstructive surgery,” Schiefer said.
He discovered The Gary Sinise Foundation in 2016 and applied for the program.
The foundation’s mission is to improve the mental health of our nation’s veterans.
Six years later, Schiefer’s new home was revealed. It’s tailored specifically for his needs.
“We incorporated really good daylighting in the interior since this is a place that I will probably spend a lot of time in,” Schiefer said. “And then also integrated HVAC design. Since I can’t control my body temperature it’s really good to maintain a constant temperature.”
The foundation made sure Schiefer would be comfortable in every room – from having the right height for the kitchen table, enough space in the shower, and a view that is unmatched in Santa Rosa Beach.
Foundation CEO Mike Thirtle said they build every home with love and care as a way to say thank you.
Thirtle said while building the home they even left notes with inspirational messages on the drywall that will stay inside forever.
“They are tailored to the individual’s needs and that is really important because it’s not a cookie-cutter kind of thing for us,” Thirtle said. “We take a lot of time and care and Gary saves a lot of love that goes into this mission.”
Schiefer’s home is the 76th home The Gary Sinise Foundation has dedicated to our nation’s heroes in the last 10 years.
Schieffer said he plans to use the space as a place of healing to not only get back his physical strength but his mental well-being.