David Kist comes from a military family and enlisted 18 days after his 18th birthday. He served in the Army for 17 years, from 2005 to 2011. He did a few deployments and activations and certainly saw combat. He even spent a few weeks at ground zero after 9/11 took place. While in Iraq, as he was working with his fellow soldiers to tear down a prision, he fell off of a truck straight onto his back, fractured his back in three places and blew out his ankle. He did not realize how badly he was hurt and continued to serve in Iraq for a full year. His back never was the same. Once he finally returned home, the doctors informed him of how poorly his back healed while he was overseas.
The years spent as a part of homeland defence in Iraq are still extremely difficult both mentally and physically on all of the soldiers who served during that time. David loves the outdoors and found that spending time outdoors with his service dog was a phenomenal way to relieve his PTSD symptoms, even in the winter. Water therapy and swimming in the pool is also the number one best exercise for his back injuries.
The steps leading to the backyard were too steep and painful to walk up and down. Their aboveground pool was too high for David to use. This has been a HUGE safety hazard and extremely frustrating especially during the pandemic. He was isolated inside due to COVID19 and this was one of the worst winters New Jersey had seen in many years. David was unable to attend any social events or in person medical appointments.
Lisa, David’s wife, reached out to Homes for Veterans with an idea. They wanted to create an outdoor space for David to use all year around. A place where he could get fresh air and sit with his service dog, even in the winter-WITHOUT the fear of tumbling down the stairs. We brought in Sgt Major Construction led by Marco, who is also a combat veteran. Marco’s team built David a beautiful space for him to enjoy with his family and service dog.
During the construction David ended up in the hospital with unforeseen back issues. Lisa said,“Dave’s back has been so bad he hasn’t been able to walk very well. The deck is what has him smiling and calling his friends and telling them how blessed he is..”
David expressed how much building this deck meant to him and his family. “This is the family deck… our life is changed because of this deck.”We were honored to fund projects like this for our disabled veterans who have sacrificed so much of their lives for us.
We are extremely thankful to all of our veterans, our community of donors and Sgt Major Construction! If you are interested in getting involved in projects like this, please donate on our donate page or contact us on our contact page