Retired U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Sean Adams wants his life to feel as normal as it did before Feb. 10, 2012.
Last summer, he was working toward some kind of normalcy after stepping on an improvised explosive device four years ago in Kajaki, Afghanistan, losing his legs and damaging his right hand, left arm and left eye.
Adams was living with his parents in Gainesville, trying to get a loan to build his own home, when he got a call from actor Gary Sinise.
“He thanked me for my service,” Adams said. “And he told me he wanted to build me a house and serve me as I’ve served the country.”
On Saturday, Adams and the Gary Sinise Foundation will break ground on a new, completely adaptive home in the Maysville area for Adams. The new home will dramatically improve Adams’ quality of life, but his first reaction to the news was to pass on the offer.
“The first thing I told Gary was, ‘Give it to someone that deserves it more than I do,’” Adams said. “But he told me, ‘No. We picked you.’”
The offer for a new, debt-free home couldn’t have come at a better time. Adams had been applying for loans and hoping for a home, without any certainty he could get one.
“I’ve been waiting a long time,” he said. “It’s been four years this past February since I was injured, and three years of wondering, ‘Where am I going to get a house? When can I get a home? Can I even get a loan for a home?’”
Adams, a Gainesville native and Chestatee High School graduate, enlisted in the Marines after graduation in 2011. He was only in Afghanistan one month before the incident that would change the course of his life.
The Purple Heart recipient underwent recovery at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, D.C. He was placed in a drug-induced coma for six weeks upon returning to the states and began physical therapy immediately upon waking.
Today, he is looking forward to the independence his new home will give him.
The Gary Sinise Foundation specifically works to “serve our nation by honoring our defenders, veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need.” Its RISE — Restoring Independence, Supporting Empowerment — Program provides adaptive Smart Homes, vehicles, chairs and more to wounded American veterans.
“A Smart Home has technology that lets me control the lights, the shades, all that, from my phone or iPad,” Adams said of his future home. “I can have automatic doors if I want them, so if I push a button the doors open for me. The stovetop will go up and down where I can sit at it, if I need to cook for myself. Even the cabinets will either come out and down to your level, or you can push buttons and they’ll open from the bottom.”
One of the biggest advantages of the new home will be the privacy of a wheelchair-accessible bathroom.
“No matter where I go, I don’t have privacy. Using toiletries or, really, taking a shower,” he said. “I was in the military, so taking a shower in a big open room isn’t a big deal to me. But it’s nice to have privacy sometimes.”
But Adams said he is most looking forward to the independence and normalcy his new home will give him.
“It’s going to give me back my life to the greatest extent anyone can — to give me the life I had before Feb. 10, 2012,” Adams said. “That’s the biggest relief for me, to be able to function in my own house and get my life back as close as I can get it.”