Caleb Brewer celebrated his 31st birthday in the most unconventional way possible. Instead of a day filled with merriment, the supposed-to-be special occasion was marked with peril and distress. But knowing that it all happened in the service of our country, the man who almost lost his life harbor no regrets.
The U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class was badly wounded in combat while he was deployed in Afghanistan in 2015. He lost both of his legs, sustained severe infections, blood clots, and a traumatic brain injury. It was a circumstance that you thought no one would survive, but he did.
Brewer retired in 2016, and this is when the Gary Sinise Foundation caught wind of his story and convinced him to apply for its RISE (Restoring Independence Supporting Empowerment) program. The program aims to build specially adapted smart homes for severely wounded veterans. They also provide home modifications, mobility devices, and adapted vehicles to the injured, wounded, ill, and/or aging soldiers.
The application soon became a reality for Brewer, his wife, Ashley, and their two daughters, Emily and Evelyn, as their home in Tucson, Arizona finished construction on February 6, 2019.
“It’s incredibly overwhelming in a good way,” said Brewer, a Tucson native. “It doesn’t feel real. I never would’ve expected it in a million years.”
The smart home is equipped with features that can be controlled with a smartphone or tablet. With just a push of a button, the family will be able to close the blinds, turn down music, and check who is at the door.
To make things easier for Brewer when he’s on his wheelchair, hanging mirrors at an angle and pocket doors were also installed in the home.
“A specially adapted smart home will greatly increase his ability to perform necessary daily functions,” a news release from the Gary Sinise Foundation said.
The house has a workout room that will help Brewer in his rehabilitation process and will also allow him to train others.
Brewer enlisted in the Army Reserves in 2005 and earned his Green Beret in 2012. Four months after he was injured, he learned how to walk on prosthetic legs and can now run, surf and rock climb.
The Gary Sinise Foundation was founded by actor Gary Sinise, who has been a firm supporter of war veterans since the 70s, 80s, and 90s – having military veterans in his own family. But it was the devastating events after September 11, 2001, that compelled Gary to become a much more active advocate of our protectors however and wherever he could. This personal mission is what led to the founding of the Gary Sinise Foundation in 2011.
Since then, he has been supporting veterans and their families through a number of programs such as the Snowball Express under the Relief & Resiliency program, which aims to serve the children and families of fallen military heroes by hosting fun activities and healing retreats in a stress-free community to help them cope with the loss of their beloved veterans. Now, the foundation has helped another veteran in the person of Sgt. 1st Class Caleb Brewer.
Congratulations to the Brewer family for their newly built smart home! For all their sacrifices, our military veterans truly deserve all the care and assistance that they can get. Thankfully, we have organizations like the Gary Sinise Foundation where we can contribute and show our support to the people who uphold our safety above all.
All photos were taken from the Arizona Daily Star, unless otherwise indicated.