Utah Veteran given the gift of Independence in the form of a new smart home

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HOOPER, Utah (ABC 4 News) – The keys to a new home were passed over to a Utah Veteran Wednesday.  But this isn’t just any home, the smart home was built to allow this double amputee Purple Heart recipient his independence.

In 2004 Sergeant Brian Johnston was deployed to Iraq.  It was his very first deployment when his vehicle was hit by an IED.  He lost his right arm and right leg. 

But if you try to talk to Sgt. Johnston about what happened, he doesn’t have much to say.  He doesn’t want to dwell on the negative.  He will just say he had a bad day at work.

Sgt. Johnston explained, “Everyone has their own personality and their own attitude.  I can’t tell you where it comes from.”

On this day, he is however “Humbled.  It is very great to see people that came out to support me.  They have never met me and don’t know much, but they care.”

Sgt. Johnston’s new home was built by the Tunnel to Towers foundation.  He doesn’t have to pay anything.  But besides the financial boost, this home is built to suite his needs.  The home will give independence to the double amputee Purple Heart recipient. 

Sgt. Johnston said, “Obviously, its mortgage free.  So it will save me money.  But it is handicap accessible.  A shower I can get in and out.”

Jennie Taylor, the wife of Brent Taylor who was killed in Afghanistan over a year ago, was also there to celebrate.  She knows first hand the generosity of Tunnels to Towers.

Taylor said, “It is like they are giving you a gift and saying ‘We have got your back!  We are grateful for your service and sacrifice and we want to make sure you are comfortable.'”

“While Taylor is happy to support her friend Sgt. Johnston, she feels his attitude helps all of those around him.

She said, “That attitude of his is just so inspiring.”

A humble man given the gift of independence as a thank you for his sacrifice.

Sgt. Johnston said, “There is no reason to ever move out of a house like this.”

The Tunnel to Towers program helps Veterans and Gold Star families around the country.  It was started to honor Stephen Siller.  A firefighter who died after 9/11.

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