While Noah Galloway spends much of his time traveling the country after his “Dancing with the Stars” run, Homes for Our Troops (HFOT) is working to build a home in Calera that allows him to recharge for his active lifestyle.
“I push myself and my body has already taken a toll, and I’ll continue to push myself as long as I can,” Galloway said. “When we’re out and about, I’m fine, but when I’m at home, that’s when I need a place to rest and recover. My kids have even adapted to knowing that there are certain times when I don’t have my leg on, and they will have to get something for me.”
“To have this home, it will profoundly affect our lives. To have a home to live in, be comfortable in and grow old in, that’s amazing,” he said.
Galloway and his fiancée, Jamie Boyd, took his three children – Rian, Jack and Colston – to see the home for the first time last weekend.
“I kept saying I was going to wait to take the kids to see the home when it was finished, but then I decided they need to see what’s happening before it’s done. I like to show them when things are going good, or going bad, what others are doing,” Galloway said. “The kids decided which room they were going to have, and just to be there was incredible.”
The mission of HFOT – to build specially adapted, mortgage-free homes for severely injured veterans – is important for veterans like Galloway. Even more important, the organization serves to walk with veterans as they rebuild their lives. HFOT offers financial planning, home ownership maintenance education, a pay it forward program and a support network of HFOT staff, fellow veterans and the community.
“When I was there, I had a meeting with all these different veterans, and it was incredible all they had to offer, the financial planning and everything involved,” Galloway said.
“We see so many of our veterans wanting to return to service-focused careers, so assistance in rebuilding their lives is key,” said Bill Ivey, HFOT executive director.
Laying the foundation
Each home has four bedrooms and two to three baths, ensuring the home will serve the veteran for a lifetime. The veteran selects the location and chooses from over 40 adaptations that best suit his or her needs. Options include widened doorways, special safety features in the kitchen and wheelchair accessible showers. These options make the home a place of comfort, rather than room after room filled with obstacles.
Galloway became involved with HFOT in 2013 when he volunteered for the organization on a build in Trussville. Initially, Galloway turned down the offer from HFOT to build a home for him, but found himself two years later in need of help. HFOT broke ground on the Galloway house in June, with plans to hand over the key this fall.
Steve Ray, owner of Ray Construction, general contractor on the Galloway home and a permanently disabled veteran himself, said these homes are different from the inside out.
“Essentially from the curb throughout the house there’s zero transition for wheelchair accessibility. You can’t get into the house without being introduced to a special design feature from automatic door openings, shower grab bars and extra energy-efficiency measures,” said Ray.
HFOT strives to create a space where at the end of the day, when the prosthetics come off, veterans can get in a wheelchair and still have full accessibility to their homes.
Alabama Power worked closely with HFOT to ensure a high level of energy efficiency. The company provided an 80-gallon heat pump water heater and an Energy Star induction cooktop. In addition, they worked with KS Services to select a high-efficiency 16 SEER heat pump for the home and Ecological Insulation Services to apply spray foam insulation.
HFOT began in 2004 and is one of the top five military non-profits, consistently giving 90 cents on the dollar to veterans, with 62 percent of dollars coming from individual sponsors. Veterans are selected through a process beginning with the Veterans Administration determining a candidate is eligible for a Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grant.
Next, the veteran is presented to the HFOT selection committee. Last, a staff member is linked with a veteran to inform them of their selection and walk with them through the building process.
In addition, HFOT works closely with several other veteran non-profits to make sure all veterans are able to get a home, even if HFOT isn’t able to serve them.
“The whole goal is to accomplish the mission,” Ivey said.
At HFOT, the mission isn’t seen as a handout.
“We don’t see this is a charity,” Ivey said. “It’s all about service – helping these men and women regain some of the independence they lost protecting ours.”
To learn how you can support HFOT, visit hfotusa.org.