Montana Veteran Receives Smart Home Designed For Accessibility
A Montana veteran and his family received a new, mortgage-free smart home designed to accommodate injuries received in combat.
On Wednesday, a fleet of Bozeman Police Officers, Central Valley Firefighters and Patriot Guard Riders escorted Sgt. Saul Martinez and his family to their new home in Bozeman.
In 2007, Martinez, a Purple Heart Recipient, was in the lead vehicle of a convoy in Iraq when an explosively formed penetrator detonated. He lost both of his legs and uses prosthetics and a wheelchair to get around.
The new home is designed to make living easier.
It was funded by the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, which awards mortgage-free, custom-built, smart homes to injured veterans. One went to Navy Seal veteran Bo Reichenbach in Billings five years ago. Another is in progress for Ryan Austin Reese in Whitefish.
Montana has one of the highest rates of veterans in the nation. About one in ten residents have served in the military.
In the kitchen, Martinez hits a button on a mechanized lift that adjusts the stove top to wheelchair height.
"That's going to make it so much easier to make waffles," Martinez says.
Other features that make this home accessible include an automatic front door, wider hallways and specially designed kitchen cabinet shelving.
"Being able to wash dishes and cook with ease is so relieving. So that’s huge and then having everything accessible from all rooms and being able to control everything from all rooms, that was huge, too," Martinez says.
The lights, thermostat and security system can all be controlled via an app or touch screens installed on the walls.
During the dedication ceremony July 1, the foundation’s national community engagement coordinator Andrew McClure, gave Martinez a piece of recovered steel from the World Trade Center after 9/11.
Martinez says receiving the gift felt like coming full circle.
"I was a sophomore in high school when 9/11 happened, and at that point, it wasn’t a matter of if, it was a matter of when I was going to join the army because I was always proud of our country; I always wanted to serve. That was the moment I knew I wanted to join," Martinez says.
Martinez continues to support veterans as a director for the Warriors and Quiet Waters Foundation. The Bozeman-based non-profit takes combat veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq and their loved ones on fly fishing trips in Montana to help them find peace from the stresses of war and day-to-day struggles.
Martinez was a participant in the program in 2009.