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Marine Veteran, Amputee Athlete Kirstie Ennis Gets The Keys To A Custom-Made Home
Five years after miraculously surviving a helicopter crash in Afghanistan, becoming a renowned athlete, gracing the cover of ESPN magazine, and drumming up support for her fellow wounded warriors, Marine Corps veteran Kirstie Ennis got a personal boost Sept. 16, when she was given the keys to a custom-built home in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.
“That area has everything that someone like me would be interested in: mountaineering, hunting, kayaking, and snowboarding,” Ennis told Task & Purpose. “There’s a lot of financial stability of having this home will set me up for the rest of my life, by providing the framework to have the career I want, but also be able to build off of that and do the extra things, like having a family.”
The three bedroom home was gifted to Ennis by Building Homes For Heroes, a nonprofit that receives donated homes from Chase Bank and renovates them for injured veterans in need — or, when it’s cheaper, builds a home from the ground-up. Building Homes for Heroes gifts roughly 30 mortgage-free homes each year to wounded post-9/11 veterans.
Marine veteran Kirstie Ennis was presented the keys to her new home in Glenwood Springs, Colorado by the non-profit, Building Homes For Heroes on Sept. 16.Building Homes For Heroes photo by Gary DeJidas
The new home is wheelchair accessible and comes furnished with top-of-the-line kitchen appliances — Ennis is an avid baker, Kim Vesey, the nonprofit’s director of military relations, told Task & Purpose.
“We want to give people the opportunity to put down roots and raise their families there. That’s the number one most important thing,” Vesey told Task & Purpose, adding that the nonprofit receives thousands of applications every year. “We don’t have the means to help everyone. I wish we did.”
For Ennis, who saw her home for the first time this weekend, it’s been a long road getting there.
Ennis suffered a traumatic brain injury that resulted in memory loss, as well as severe damage to her face, spine, shoulders, and left leg. She underwent numerous surgeries, including having her left leg amputated above the knee in November 2015.
An indefatigable athlete, she’s since become a top snowboarder and is training for the 2018 paralympics, an accomplished mountaineer — she summited Kilimanjaro in April — Ennis has run numerous marathons, and Ironman competitions, and became the first veteran to land the cover of ESPN’s Body Issue in July.
Kirstie Ennis tours her new thee-bedroom home on Sept. 16 in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.Building Homes For Heroes photo by Gary DeJidas
But it can be easy to lose sight of the day-to-day difficulties she still faces as an amputee.
“It cracks me up, because people will look at prosthetic limbs and think, ‘Oh, robot leg, so this makes up for the loss of limb,’ and that’s not the case,” Ennis told Task & Purpose by phone as she rolled around in her wheelchair. “There’s nothing easy about walking, even. Something as small as that, we all take for granted, it’s totally different now. Putting one foot in front of the other is a process.”
Which is why the new home is such a gift, and it’s worth isn’t easily measured.
“One of the things people misunderstand about veterans going through recovery is [the notion] that they want pity — but all they want is opportunity,” Ennis said. “These homes are providing exactly that: opportunity.”
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Kirstie Ennis is a paralympic athlete. She is training for the 2018 U.S. paralympic snowboarding team. (Updated 9/18/17, 11:45 a.m. EST).
The former Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs thinks that the VA needs to start researching medical marijuana. Not in a bit. Not soon. Right goddamn now.
US and Turkey agree on temporary cease fire to allow Kurdish fighters to withdraw from northeast Syria
The United States and Turkey have agreed to a temporary cease fire to allow Kurdish fighters to withdraw from a safe zone that Turkey is establishing along its border with Syria, Vice President Mike Pence announced on Thursday.
They started the US war against ISIS. Now they have an important message for Trump on abandoning the Kurds
Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
Trump's recent decisions in northern Syria were ill-advised, strategically unsound, and morally shameful. In rapidly withdrawing U.S. presence and allowing a Turk offensive into Syria, we have left the Syrian Kurds behind, created a power vacuum for our adversaries to fill, and set the stage for the resurgence of ISIS.
After preliminary fitness test scores leaked in September, many have voiced concerns about how women would fare in the new Army Combat Fitness Test.
The scores — which accounted for 11 of the 63 battalions that the ACFT was tested on last year — showed an overall failure rate of 84% for women, and a 70% pass rate for men.
But Army leaders aren't concerned about this in the slightest.
More than 74 years after Marines raised the American flag on Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima, the Marine Corps has announced that one of men in the most famous picture of World War II had been misidentified.