GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Homes For Our Troops (HFOT) held a community kickoff event Saturday, Oct. 24, in Middleville, Michigan, for the building of a specially adapted custom home for Army Sgt. Michael Gower.

HFOT is a privately funded 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that builds and donates specially adapted custom homes nationwide for severely injured, post-9/11 veterans, enabling them to rebuild their lives. Many of these veterans have sustained injuries, including multiple limb amputations, partial or full paralysis, and/or severe traumatic brain injuries (TBI).

On Aug. 2, 2007, while serving in Baghdad, Iraq, on his second deployment, Gower's transport vehicle rolled over a 2-ton, subsurface improvised explosive device (IED). He was pinned in the vehicle, critically injuring his back and fracturing his tibia, fibula, and both of his feet. Gower also sustained a severe TBI.

HFOT works with local companies near where the build is planned to donate needed materials. Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Behler-Young Co., an HVAC wholesale distributor, has pledged to donate the necessary HVAC equipment and ductwork materials required for the build.

“Support from local companies in areas we are building help advance our mission of building and donating specially adapted custom homes for deserving veterans,” said Matt McGuire, manager of corporate philanthropy, HFOT. “We are thrilled to have Behler-Young’s support for Sgt. Gower’s project.”

Doug Young, president and CEO, Behler-Young, said the company is fortunate to be able to give back to Gower through HFOT.

“We are so grateful for and proud of the young men and women who are willing to sacrifice to preserve our freedom and the American way of life,” Young said. “To be able to provide a piece of Sgt. Gower's new house is an incredible privilege we are honored to have.”

Currently, Gower is only ambulatory for short distances, and doctors have not ruled out amputating both legs in the future. Receiving a specially adapted custom home from HFOT will provide him and his wife, Kelli, with a sense of security, allowing him to have full wheelchair access and independence.

“This new home will improve my quality of life because I will be able to get in and out of my house,” said Gower. “It will also make my wife and son’s lives better since they won’t have to watch me struggle.”

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Publication date: 11/02/18