Marine Corporal Luke McDermott, lost both legs in Afghanistan when an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated under his vehicle, will receive a mortgage-free, wheelchair-accessible home from Homes For Our Troops (HFOT), a nonprofit that has provided 236 specially adapted homes for veterans since 2004.
After his military career ended abruptly in 2010, McDermott started spending his spare time serving on international mission trips. Most recently, he spent two weeks teaching kids in Morocco with International Volunteer HQ, an international volunteer travel company.
“Seeing the overall growth in learning of the kids was probably one of the best things,” said McDermott, according to the Homes For Our Troops website. “Every child was eager and excited to learn, and it always put a smile on my face to walk in every morning and see the kids smiling and happy.”
One of the things McDermott enjoyed most about serving in Afghanistan, he told Homes For Our Troops, was seeing positive change happen for people often subject to violence and oppression.
“These kinds of experiences always make you look at the world differently. It shows that even in a short amount of time, you can still have a big impact on people’s lives,” McDermott said.
During his time in other countries and at home – unable to move around with his wheelchair, McDermott spends all his time on his prosthetics, leaving him sore and uncomfortable.
By receiving a fully wheelchair-accessible home, McDermott will be able to easily rest and recuperate from his service trips, and he hopes to complete at least one trip each year.
The house, which will include lower sinks and countertops, a roll-in shower and wider hallways that can accommodate his wheelchair, will be located in Upstate New York where McDermott can be close to family and friends.
Members of the community had the opportunity to meet McDermott and his fiancé at a meet-and-greet before construction on his new home begins in September, according to Watertown Daily Times.
In addition to volunteering overseas, McDermott trains and travels with the U.S. National Sled Hockey team. He also hopes to pursue a teaching career or attend law school.
The financial stability of a mortgage-free home will allow McDermott to pursue his career and educational goals in a safe and comfortable environment.
“I know several veterans who have received a home through HFOT and each one of them agrees that it has made an incredible impact on their lives. I know it will undoubtedly do the same for me,” McDermott said.