On Tuesday, January 29, at 7:00 PM at Cheney Hall in Manchester details about the home that will be adapted for Staff Sergeant Sandra Lee will be announced.
Rick Lawrence, from Lawrence Associates in Manchester provided the design for the 1,200-square foot addition to the home that will be revealed to the community for the first time. Dave Sposito from Sposito Brothers Construction will serve as the General Contractor for the project.
Senator Steve Cassano is the spearhead behind this project. He saw how the town of Glastonbury helped build a home from the ground up for Cpl. Manny Jimenez and was determined to bring a similar project to Manchester for the community to play its part to help Staff Sergeant Sandra Lee achieve the dream of home ownership after her service and sacrifice to our country.
Staff Sergeant Sandra Lee is the first approved injured female Service Connected Disabled Veteran to be approved by Purple Heart Homes, headquartered in Statesville, NC to receive an adapted home.
Lee suffers from invisible injuries that over 300,000 returning Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans experience - severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - PTSD.
Lee said, "We lived on adrenaline 24/7 in Iraq because when we left the safety of our base for each mission we never knew where or when the next IED would be detonated. And early on in the war - our military leaders did not know that much about the ramifications of IED explosions - because like you they could not see any injuries, so they examined us and if you were not seeing double you were back on duty the next day," Lee added.
Staff Sergeant Sandra Lee was involved in four IED explosions and was sexually assaulted. Today Lee is 80% Service Connected Disabled. She suffers from short term memory loss, severe headaches, reoccurring nightmares, vertigo and depression.
Lee will be given a hand up and not a hand out by Purple Heart Homes with the house that is anticipated to be completed in June, meaning she will pay a mortgage of 50% of the home market value when it is completed. At the end of 15 years - Lee will own the home free and clear.
James Earl from H.E.A.R.T 9/11 will tell attendees on Tuesday night how out of the World Trace Center ashes formed a team of first responders who now volunteer their experience and expertise helping to build houses for wounded returning Veterans, who continue the fight that began on September 11, 2001.
H.E.A.R.T 9/11 will provide the framing crew that will work side by side with professional trade volunteers from Manchester to help frame the home in one weekend in March for Staff Sergeant Sandra Lee.
Lee will also be working with Purple Heart Homes to help develop a mentor program to assist other approved veterans with credit repair, home maintenance and integrating into the community by paying it forward. She has her Bachelor of Arts Degree from Portland University in international relations and social services. Lee is currently getting her Master's Degree at Manchester Community College in holistic health so she can help other veterans and their families with PTSD heal, focus and find a purpose.
Those attending the kick-off will have a chance to see the contrast of the visible injuries of war as Purple Heart Homes Co-founder Dale Beatty, a double amputee below the knees, will play the drums as the performers from Summit Studios sing Phillip Phillips song "Home." Beatty played in his band before he deployed to Iraq and when he returned he needed to teach his new shiny titanium legs how to play the drums as music became his therapy to help him heal from the injuries he sustained.
John Gallina, Purple Heart Homes Co-founder, who like Lee suffers from PTSD and severe back injuries will share how focusing on developing their non-profit helped him improve from the same invisible injuries.
"We are so delighted that the Senator Cassano brought Purple Heart Homes to Manchester for it is community that needs to play a vital role in the reintegration of our veterans," said Gallina. "We look forward to engaging and involving many volunteers from Manchester to help us make this a project everyone can be proud to play a part by not only working on the home, but welcoming Staff Sergeant Sandra Lee -- home," Gallina added.
Purple Heart Homes was founded in 2008 in Statesville, North Carolina by two Iraq combat wounded Veteran Dale Beatty and John Gallina who were both severely injured November 15, 2004 when the vehicle they were riding in hit an anti-tank mine that exploded leaving Beatty a double amputee below the knees and Gallina with severe head and back injuries. Together they remain on a mission to provide housing solutions for Service Connected Disabled Veterans that served in all eras. Both were trained to not leave a soldier behind on the battlefield and are committed to not leaving them behind once they return home.