Gary Sinise Foundation recently gave a smart home to a 101st Airborne Division vet who suffered from combat injuries that caused him to lose his legs.
Retired Army Sergeant. After being approved for one two-years ago, Christopher Kurtz, Adams, Tennessee, was given the keys to his four-bedroom and three-bath mortgage-free house.
“We help veterans and first responders through their healing process,” said Gary Sinise Foundation CEO Mike Thirtle. “When Gary wanted us to execute providing these homes to veterans, he wanted us to make them customable and tailorable for them and their families.”
The Kurtzes’ bungalow home was designed to fit the veteran’s needs and includes wheelchair-accessible countertops, wide hallways, drop-down shelving, and smart technology to control everything in the house with an iPad.
“The house that stands before you today is a small symbol of appreciation and respect from a grateful nation,” Sinise said in a video shown during the event.
The actor played the role of Lt. Dan Taylor in the 1994 film “Forrest Gump.” In the movie, he was a disabled veteran who served as Gump’s platoon leader during the Vietnam War. Later, he becomes his best friend.
“Shortly after the movie opened, I was contacted by the Disabled American Veterans Organization inviting me to their national convention where they wanted to present me with an award,” Sinise explained. “I met hundreds if not thousands of people who were not playing a part in a movie.”
Sinise was inspired to create the Gary Sinise foundation, which provides veterans with custom homes without a mortgage for more than ten years, allowing them independence.
“I am incredibly grateful to the Gary Sinise Foundation, not only for what they do for the military community, but for changing my life with this new home that will help restore my independence and make life easier for our family,” the soldier said.
Kurtz enlisted in U.S. Army on February 9, 2009, in hopes of changing his life. The military would be a critical step towards obtaining a higher degree and would honor the legacy his relatives who were members.
Kurtz was deployed with the 101st Airborne Division in the Arghandab Valley region of Afghanistan on June 13, 2010, The group encountered combat situations almost daily within a matter of days.
Kurtz was on foot patrol when a remote improvised bomb device (IED), detonated nearby.
Kurtz sustained terrible injuries in the blast. It tore through Kurtz’s legs, caused him two broken fingers on his left hand and ripped his pelvis in three separate places.
Once the soldier had been stabilized on the field, he was taken to Kandahar Airfield and then to Landstuhl, Germany. After completing additional surgeries, he was brought to Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Both of his legs were eventually amputated above and below the knee.
After four years of active service, Kurtz was medically discharged from the Army in 2013, with the rank Sergeant.
Kurtz’s smart home has a garage with machinery for welding and crafting, gifted by his friends at work in PTL Fabricators. Veteran Kurtz said he wanted to use the shop to help others.
“I want to develop products and make already-made products possibly better so that I can help others that are in similar situations,” he said.
Several local businesses contributed to the completion of the home, including 31W and PTL, A-Team Concrete. Coffmans Home Decor. Androws Flooring. Heritage Tile. ABC Supply. Southern Roofing. Screaming Eagle Concrete.
The March 24 turnover of this home was a perfect timing as Kurtz and Heather recently celebrated their 10th anniversary.
“It’s a bit overwhelming sometimes when you think about how much went into (building the house), how many people put their hands on it, and it’s very humbling,” Kurtz said. “Now, I owe the world.”
Click on the video below to see the unveiling of the Kurtzes’ new home.
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