Homes for Our Troops (HFOT) has a remarkable mission of building specially adapted, mortgage-free homes for severely injured Veterans, post 9/11. It’s an undertaking of significant proportion, including thousands of volunteers who donate products and services and give cash gifts, including individuals and businesses like Budget Blinds® and our manufacturing partner, Springs Window Fashions®, who donates faux wood blinds for the HFOT homes.

Each HFOT home is built on a solid foundation, infused with the love and good wishes of many people, including the local Budget Blinds franchise owner. There are three major milestones during the process–Groundbreaking, Volunteer Day and the Key Ceremony–when supporters and volunteers get to directly participate.

Groundbreaking Ceremony

HFOT Groundbreaking Shovels

The Groundbreaking is the beginning of a brand new tomorrow for each HFOT Veteran and their family

At the start of a new build, HFOT works to rally the local community that the Veteran will call home, by creating excitement for the project and putting together a team that will support the build from Groundbreaking to final Key Ceremony.  HFOT representatives join local key individuals, as well as the Veteran and their family, in putting “shovels to dirt” to get the official home build underway.

Volunteer Day at HFOT House

It’s Volunteer Day for CPL Garrett Carnes, and Budget Blinds was there in force: Ron and Alice Van Nostrand, franchise owners of Budget Blinds Serving Burlington, and their daughter, Lacey, and Mack Moore, franchise owner of Budget Blinds Serving Winston-Salem

Volunteer Day

It takes five to eight months to build an HFOT house. Within 30 days of completion, a Volunteer Day is scheduled when community volunteers gather at the home site to lay in the landscaping. Included in the volunteer force are new neighbors and fellow Veterans who are there to lend a helping hand. Tasks include planting flowers and trees, raking, spreading mulch and compost, and laying sod. With so many willing hands, the job is done in a few short hours, and it’s a beautiful sight to behold!

Key Ceremony

This is the long-awaited day when the family gets to move into their new home. Kicking off with a motorcade arrival of the Veteran and their family, there are speeches by HFOT executives and others, the key presentation, cutting the ribbon, and raising the American flag. Each action has significance for HFOT. “Our veterans raise the American flag and cut the yellow ribbon outside their new home. These are gestures of patriotism and service symbolizing our Veterans letting go of the barriers that previously prohibited them from living independently. Freedom in the way of a fully-accessible home has arrived at last for our Hero.” –Major General (USA, Retired) Timothy P. McHale –President/CEO of Homes for Our Troops

HFOT Key Ceremony

The Key Ceremony for SGT Dustin Johns included heartfelt speeches, cutting the ribbon and raising the American flag. He shares, “I’m excited. We’re anxious to get in and enjoy it!”

Faux wood blinds, the finishing touch

Faux Wood Blinds

Signature Series® faux wood blinds provide functionality in every room

Between Volunteer Day and the Key Ceremony, the local Budget Blinds franchise owner provides the finishing touch to the new home–custom faux wood blinds. Faux wood blinds throughout the house and garage provide complete light and privacy control. As a special feature, the master bathroom blinds are motorized, powered by Somfy®, with one-touch remote control so there’s never the need to reach over the tub to open or close the blinds.

Classic, 2” white faux wood blinds are the perfect finishing touch for the HFOT homes because of their versatility and resistance to moisture and other environmental factors like extreme heat or cold. Blinds are:

  • Ideal for any climate and any room in the house.
  • Energy- efficient and provide UV protection for furnishings.
  • Easily paired with valances, curtains or drapes for a custom look.
  • Beautiful and worry-free for years, resisting fading, chipping or peeling.

It’s an honor to support HFOT’s mission to build specially adapted homes for severely injured Veterans and, in the stories below, our franchise owners share their hearts, exemplifying Budget Blinds’ commitment to give back to our military heroes.

Meet Marine Corporal Garrett J. Carnes

Marine Corporal Garrett J. CarnesIn 2012 in Afghanistan, CPL Garrett Carnes was on dismounted patrol when he stepped on a pressure plate improvised explosive device (IED), resulting in the loss of both legs. From evacuation to Camp Dwyer to final treatment at Walter Reed, he underwent more than 30 surgeries. Not one to shrink from a challenge, CPL Carnes made it a personal goal to be walking on prosthetics by the time his fellow Marines returned home from deployment. And indeed, he did greet them on the tarmac on his new legs, after only six weeks of physical therapy. Coupled with his own determination and ability to overcome obstacles, he credits his wife, Courtney, with getting him through the arduous recovery.

With two young sons and a traditional home, the challenges continue daily. CPL Garrett says that ordinary tasks like feeding and changing his sons become “science projects.” He looks forward to the specially adapted HFOT home with hardwood floors, wider doorways to accommodate his wheelchair, and an open, accessible kitchen. “I’m excited about getting into a house I can maneuver around in because I can be the man of the house again…[able to do] whatever task I need to accomplish.”  CPL Garrett shared that the HFOT home will give him comfort, stability, and confidence, enabling him to focus on his career goal of becoming a high school teacher. “Thank you isn’t enough to Homes for Our Troops. Your house is your kingdom. To go home to a HFOT home and relax with my family at the end of the day – you can’t put a price on that!

CPL Carnes and Family

The power of love: CPL Carnes is surrounded at Walter Reed by his wife, Courtney, and his parents

Ron and Alice Van Nostrand, franchise owners of Budget Blinds Serving Burlington, participated in the Groundbreaking, Volunteer Day and Key Ceremony, as well as measuring and professionally installing the blinds for CPL Carnes’ home. “[He] is a real hero, and his former Lieutenant and Sergeant both attested to Garrett’s leadership, bravery and devotion to his country, his family and the Marines. We are honored to have Garrett and his courageous wife in our community. She was unflinching in her love and strength during Garrett’s trials and it was wonderful to see their love for each other.”

Hear CPL Carnes and Courtney share their story by clicking here .

Meet Marine Sergeant Dustin Johns

Marine Sergeant Dustin JohnsOn his second deployment in Afghanistan in 2011, SGT Dustin Johns was clearing an area of explosive hazards when he stepped on an IED. The blast resulted in numerous injuries, including loss of both his legs and two fingers on his right hand. He received life-saving surgeries at Camp Leatherneck, finally spending months at Walter Reed for extensive therapies. After seven weeks, he took his first steps on new prosthetics with wife, Melissa, by his side:  “Seeing him stand for the first time was pretty amazing.”

Their current home is a daily challenge, with stairs and narrow doorways. In their new, specially adapted HFOT home, there’s not a spot in the house that is inaccessible. “The chance to live in an accessible home means the world to my wife and me,” says SGT Johns. “I will enjoy the security and freedom knowing that I could navigate my home without barriers. The kitchen is very exciting for me, I love that I can use the sink, the stove and the oven and I don’t have to do acrobatics to get up into the cabinets.

The mortgage-free home will allow them to focus on year-and-a-half-old daughter, Piper, and schooling. SGT Johns is completing his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering with plans for a Masters in prosthetics and orthotics, and Melissa is attending nursing school. Around his studies, SGT Johns enjoys golf, disc golf, hiking, skiing and SCUBA diving. They offer a big thank you to HFOT and its supporters:  “I love what the HFOT program says about our country as a whole, that there are people out there who still support our Veterans and are willing do something like this for Veterans like myself.

Budget Blinds Kansas City

Dan Bishop, Springs Window Fashions Sales Representative, and Budget Blinds’ Courtney and Debbie Stoddard on Volunteer Day, helping to make a real difference, one home at a time

Franchise owners Jim and Debbie Stoddard, Budget Blinds Serving Kansas City, measured and installed the blinds throughout the home, and helped lay down the sod at Volunteer Day.  With family military connections, it was a special honor to participate with HFOT. “Being a part of Homes for our Troops was one of the most rewarding things we have done as a business. We love having the opportunity to give back to the soldiers who gave so much for us. As the granddaughter of a Marine who started this Budget Blinds franchise, we know that if [Grandad] was here today he would be proud.”  –Courtney Stoddard

Click here to listen to CPL Johns and Melissa share their story.

To learn more about Budget Blinds window coverings, including shutters, shades, blinds and drapes go to www.budgetblinds.com to find a Style Consultant near you. Call 866-590-6341 today to schedule a free, in-home consultation and learn about increasing the energy efficiency in your home, or how to enhance your lifestyle with the convenience of motorization, eco-friendly products or child-safe cordless options.

To learn more about the Budget Blinds and Homes for Our Troops partnership or to make a donation to HFOT, click here.