The Restoring Independence Supporting Empowerment (RISE) program is proving that smart technology can vastly improve the everyday lives of severely wounded veterans.
Over the past five years, RISE has teamed with organizations like the Marcus and Home Depot Foundations to raise money for new adapted smart homes all over the country. So far they have given or committed over $20 million.
These mortgage-free houses are designed specifically for each veteran’s needs. The homes come equipped with smart home technology such as automated doors, lighting, sound system, security, heating and cooling, among other appliances. The rooms are also built with smooth wooden floors for wheelchair mobility, roll-up sinks and accessible cabinets.
The houses are also constructed according to a veteran’s hobbies. If they like to cook, they’ll get her own custom-made kitchen. If they like to work with cars, they’ll get their own auto shop.
U.S. Army Sgt. Eric Hunter, who lost his left leg and shattered his right on the frontlines, said that his new home has allowed him a regain a sense of his former family life.
“Giving me my independence back and eliminating the obstacles I struggled with on a daily basis has given me the ability to no longer worry about my family’s future, but to put all of my time in loving my family and watching them grow with their Dad right by their side,” Hunter told the Atlanta Jewish Times. “That is a blessing of a lifetime.”
Participants of the RISE program built him and his family a house in Fayetteville, N.C.
“When we get to give a home away, those are the best days. It’s incredible. I had friends sacrifice at that level and I did some myself,” said Marcus Ruzek, program director of the Marcus Foundation.
“It is so incredibly important for vets to get the level of care they deserve,” he added. “We feel they do not get that from the government, the honor and dignity they deserve after their service.”
The RISE program is an initiative started by the Gary Sinise Foundation, which is an organization dedicated to supporting veterans of the United States. Sinise, an American actor, is famous for playing Lt. Dan Taylor in “Forrest Gump”. Since 9/11, Sinise has dedicated much of his talents and philanthropy to helping current and former American soldiers.