CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Meredith Iler and Robert Clark of the Helping a Hero organization, were in Clarksville Sunday, hosting a key presentation ceremony for Scott and Laura Schroeder, and officially welcoming them to their new home.
"This home was a vision for Scott and Laura," Iler said. "They put their ideas onto blueprints and spent lots of time on every room and every aspect of this home. As they began to share their dream with us at Helping a Hero, we were incredibly touched. We are honored to have had an opportunity to be a part of this, and to help them make their dream a reality."
CW3 Scott A. Schroeder's story is well known in the Clarksville community. On Dec. 10, 2010, Schroeder was traveling in a convoy in Afghanistan when his vehicle drove over an improvised explosive device (IED). Medics had no choice but to amputate both Schroeder's legs above the knee. He also had significant injuries to his right arm and sustained a mild traumatic brain injury.
Schroeder was immediately transferred to a medical facility in Germany, and within days, was flown to Walter Reed Medical Center where his long road to recovery began. To date, Schroeder has spent months in the hospital, endured more than 30 surgeries, learned to walk with prosthetics and adapt to a 'new normal' in his everyday life.
Helping a Hero has built more than 100 homes in 22 states for severely injured service members. The Schroeders house is the third home to be completed by the organization in Tennessee.
Iler announced that H.A.H. is about to begin work on three homes in the Cincinnati area, and two of those recipients, SSG Paul Brondhaver and CPL Matt Deatherage attended Sunday's ceremony.
Special guest and strong supporter of H.A.H., Lee Greenwood was on hand to show his support for the Schroeders and the organization's home project. He sang the national anthem to kick off the afternoon's festivities.
Several people involved in the project took a moment at the podium to congratulate the Schroeders on their new home, and to thank the former soldier for his outstanding service and brave sacrifice.
Howell and Glenn Foust of Blackpatch Development, Bill Orgain of Orgain Building Materials, and others were recognized for their contributions to the project.
"I was excited about the uniqueness of this project," Howell Foust said. "I called my son and said we have to do this. It's the coolest design I've ever seen. Then, I found out that Scott had been combat-wounded and that the house would have to be adaptive. Again I said, we have to build this house. These are wonderful people that have given so much."
Foust turned to the Schroeders and said, "Thank you so much for selecting us, it has been an absolute pleasure."
The home was blessed by Linda Hughes, Laura's mother.
During her comments, Meredith Iler called on the Clarksville/Fort Campbell community to help their cause.
"I want to challenge the people in this community," she said. "There are so many wounded warriors here, people you may know. There are many folks who rotated out before these programs were started. We are accepting applications. We want to build more homes.
"It seems that these guys who need us continue to put service above self, they might not ask for help. Maybe you could help us help them. That's what this is all about, to make sure everyone of our severely wounded warriors gets a handicap accessible home, where they can experience the freedom they deserve."
Iler turned her attention to the Schroeders.
"It is really special to come here today and see this house," she said. "I know you (Laura) and Scott are going to have many years ahead, and you will make lots of memories here. So, let me just say, welcome home."
At the ceremony, Greenwood, H.A.H.'s National Ambassador, was honored by Iler as the organization's Volunteer of the Year. He then closed the ceremony with his classic anthem, "God Bless the USA," and presented the Shcroeders with a giant ceremonial key to their home.
Supporters waving American flags lined the sidewalk as the Schroeders made their way to the door. Once inside, Scott took a minute before sharing his thoughts.
"I've said it before, I would have never thought a foundation like Helping a Hero would give us a grant," Schroeder said. "And my wife, and our own vision, we were able to put this together taking in every consideration, my disabilities, my wheelchair and my prosthetics.
"A home is supposed to be a safe place where you go and you heal. I can finally do that now."