Watch: Gary Sinise Foundation Helps Double Amputee Marine Vet Celebrate ‘Independence’ with Smart Home


A double-amputee Marine veteran celebrated his freedom to move around his home this Independence Day in a new smart home in central Pennsylvania — one he received after years of fighting for Americans’ freedom overseas.

Major Eric Burkett and his family received the keys to a specially-adapted smart home from the Gary Sinise Foundation last month, but the road to his personal independence was not easy.

Maj. Burkett was one of two Marines to survive when his V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft crashed in North Africa on April 11, 2012. He was just two weeks into his sixth combat tour.

The Marine veteran underwent countless surgeries to repair injuries sustained in the accident and eventually lost both legs as a result.

Maj. Burkett’s fortune changed for the better on June 14 when he, his wife Melissa, and his six children got the keys to the state-of-the-art smart home.

“This is our forever home,” Maj. Burkett said while his six-year-old son comforted him. “There’s a master bathroom that is completely accessible.”

The fully-furnished house was built so he could move around his house in his wheelchair without difficulty, and most functions in the house can be operated with the touch of an app installed on an iPad.

Maj. Burkett says he can use the iPad to control many different functions inside the house, including shelves in the kitchen that can move to his level so he can access items and adaptive showers that allow him to bathe without assistance.

“The idea of getting up and moving around freely without thinking about logistics. Should I use a chair? Should I use crutches? All that’s gone,” Maj. Burkett told Fox News.

The Gary Sinise Foundation, started by the actor best known for playing Lt. Dan in the 1994 movie Forrest Gump, makes it a goal to build 10 to 12 smart homes per year for veterans and first responders severely injured in the line of duty.

The foundation’s website states that it expects to have 66 specially-adapted smart homes either completed or under construction by the end of 2018.


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