Five years ago, when Army Staff Sgt. Brian Schar lost both legs in in Iraq, he had doubts he'd ever walk again, much less walk down the driveway to his new home in Elizabeth.
But he did.
On Dec. 15, Homes for Our Troops presented Schar and his family with the keys to a new, specially adapted home in Elizabeth.
Schar, his wife Michelle and infant son John made their way through a sea of American flags to the small heated tent outside their new home in the Wild Pointe Ranch subdivision.
More than 100 members of the community, including friends, family and elected officials, braved the chilly Colorado weather for a key presentation and tour of the couple's new home.
“When his country called, he answered,” U.S. Sen. Mark Udall said of Schar. “This is a place, a home to transition back to civilian life.”
A grateful Schar stood to thank the crowd, joking how “total strangers built a house for a guy they don't even know.”
Schar's parents presented the large pewter ceremonial key and local Boy Scouts marked the occasion with a flag-raising detail.
While on his third deployment, Schar lost both of his legs above the knees on Sept. 19, 2007, when an explosive projectile stuck his vehicle as it traveled through Baghdad.
After more than two years of rehabilitation, Schar walks with the help of specialized prosthetic legs.
While handicapped-accessible, the couple's apartment still presented several challenges including a small kitchen, carpeted floors and cabinets that were too tall.
Homes for Our Troops is a national nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that assists severely injured veterans and their immediate families by raising donations of money, building materials and professional labor to build homes. The homes, like Schar's, are designed around each veteran's needs and provide maximum freedom of movement and the ability to live more independently.
The barrier-free homes are provided at no cost to the veteran.
“I'm just so thankful now to have a safe home for my family,” said Schar. “It's not the barracks and it's not a foxhole. It has a roof, and it has plumbing — thank you.”
“This is a prime example of what can be done for those who wear the uniform,” said retired Command Sgt. Major Terrance McWilliams, El Pomar Foundation director of military and veterans affairs. “So, welcome home, Schar family, welcome home.”