ELIZABETH – Her husband had been deployed to Iraq before. But Jackie Johannsen says something felt different before he left for his second deployment in 2007.
“I had a weird feeling. I don’t know. I just had a feeling in my gut about what’s going to happen,” she said.
Jackie’s gut feeling was right. While her husband, Sgt. Tim Johannsen, was in Iraq she got a phone call. Her husband’s vehicle had run over an IED. Sgt. Johannsen lost both of his legs in the explosion. So began a journey that would end in a place that the couple least expected: their dream home.
After two-and-a-half years of rehabilitation and surgery at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Johannsen was able to go home. But that home was a three-story townhouse that was nearly impossible for him to navigate in his wheelchair or using his prosthetic legs.
“I was scooting around the floor if I didn’t have my prosthetics on,” said Johannsen.
“He had to scoot up and down the stairs,” Jackie added.
Fortunately, a fellow injured veteran who’d been in the hospital with Johannsen told him about a nonprofit organization that would change his life.
The group, Homes for Our Troops, builds adaptive houses for injured veterans and their families. Homes for Our Troops takes builds the house on whatever land the veteran chooses. The veterans and their families get a mortgage-free home.
“I believe it's a huge thank you,” said Homes for Our Troops Colorado Ambassador Dan Mcgrath, “because there is no organization in the United States that pays back on veterans the way that we have done through Homes for Our Troops.”
Johannsen’s four-bedroom, two bathroom home was built in Elizabeth. The small town has a big heart for supporting wounded veterans. Homes for our Troops has built five homes there. It’s more than any other city in the country. Homes for Our Troops has built 224 homes across the U.S. Three more are planned in Colorado.
Raising his two young sons with his wife inside their dream home, Johannsen is so grateful, he felt that he had to do something to give back.
“I wanted to make sure all the veterans who come after me have the same opportunities I did. And I think the best way to do that is to… make sure funds keep coming in.”
Johannsen decided to do that by hosting a golf tournament. That tournament, Mulligans for Military, has raised nearly $250,000 in the past six years. Registration for this year’s tournament at Spring Valley Golf Club in Elizabeth filled up in just 20 minutes.
Johannsen, a Purple Heart recipient, says it’s the least he can do to give back to an organization that gave him so much.
“I’m just at a loss for words most times, because it’s amazing,” he said. “Six years ago, I would have never thought it was possible to do this.”
To learn more about how you can help Homes for Our Troops, visit: https://www.hfotusa.org/
Copyright 2016 KUSA