In July 2011, US Navy EOD1 Andrew Bottrell was deployed to Afghanistan with Seal Team 10. On October 1, 2011, his life changed forever when the vehicle he was traveling in struck by an improvised explosive device (IED), resulting in extreme injuries that forced the amputation of his left arm and both legs.
Bottrell’s incredible sacrifice caught the attention of the Gary Sinise Foundation’s R.I.S.E (Restoring Independence Supporting Empowerment) program, which builds specially adapted homes with smart technology for severely wounded warriors. A home for Bottrell and his family is currently under construction in the San Diego, California area, and this week marked an important milestone in the building process.
On Monday, builders, veterans, friends, and neighbors alike gathered at the Bottrell home, which is about halfway done, for a day the Gary Sinise Foundation calls “Walls of Honor.” With the framing of the home completed, dozens gathered to write messages of love, support, and well wishes on the plywood.
“A house is one thing. It’s a structure,” an emotional Bottrell told KUSI News. “But a home is where you live, where you feel connected to. Having those signatures here is going to increase that connection. It’s going to be that much more meaningful and that much more of a home to me and my family.”
Last summer, Bottrell’s home got a big fundraising boost thanks to the country music community. Major artists who performed at the Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater in Virginia Beach, Virigina, autographed guitars that were auctioned off to help defray building costs. Nash 97.9 FM reported that more than a dozen performers, including stars like Brad Paisley, Darius Rucker, Dierks Bentley, Miranda Lambert, and Rascal Flatts, participated and some $44,000 was raised.
While Gary Sinise was did not attend the event on Monday—a representative from the foundation said the musician always visits with families once the homes are completed—the turnout was large, and Bottrell expressed how grateful he and his family are for all those who have been involved in the process.
“I can’t express my gratitude to everyone who has donated to this project enough,” he said.
Learn more about the R.I.S.E. project HERE.
(h/t KUSI News)