Marine Veteran, Amputee Athlete Kirstie Ennis Gets The Keys To A Custom-Made Home

news
Marine veteran Kirstie Ennis accepts the keys to her new home in Glenwood Springs, Colorado on Sept. 16.
Building Homes For Heroes photo by Gary DeJidas

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.”

Related: Wounded Warrior Kirstie Ennis Kicks Ass As The First Vet To Grace The Cover Of ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue »

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).

WATCH NEXT:

The aircraft carriers USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) and USS Nimitz (CVN 68) Strike Groups and ships from the Republic of Korea Navy transit the Western Pacific Ocean Nov. 12, 2017. (U.S. Navy/ Lt. Aaron B. Hicks)

Editor's Note: This article by Matthew Cox originally appeared onMilitary.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

The new acting secretary of the Navy said recently that he is open to designing a fleet that is larger than the current 355-ship plan, one that relies significantly on unmanned systems rather than solely on traditional gray hulls.

Read More Show Less
Maj. Mathew Golsteyn and 1st Lt. Clint Lorance (U.S. Army photos)

President Donald Trump, speaking during a closed-door speech to Republican Party of Florida donors at the state party's annual Statesman's Dinner, was in "rare form" Saturday night.

The dinner, which raised $3.5 million for the state party, was met with unusual secrecy. The 1,000 attendees were required to check their cell phones into individual locked cases before they entered the unmarked ballroom at the south end of the resort. Reporters were not allowed to attend.

But the secrecy was key to Trump's performance, which attendees called "hilarious."

Riding the high of the successful event turnout — and without the pressure of press or cell phones — Trump transformed into a "total comedian," according to six people who attended the event and spoke afterward to the Miami Herald.

He also pulled an unusual move, bringing on stage Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance and Maj. Mathew Golsteyn, who Trump pardoned last month for cases involving war crimes. Lorance was serving a 19-year sentence for ordering his soldiers shoot at unarmed men in Afghanistan, and Golsteyn was to stand trial for the 2010 extrajudicial killing of a suspected bomb maker.

Read More Show Less
Retired U.S. Air Force Col. Charles McGee (center), a decorated veteran of three wars, receives a congratulatory a send off after visiting with 436 Aerial Port Squadron personnel at Dover Air Force Base to help celebrate his 100th birthday in Dover, Delaware, Friday, Dec. 6, 2019. (Associated Press/David Tulis)

Retired Col. Charles McGee stepped out of the small commercial jet and flashed a smile.

Then a thumbs-up.

McGee had returned on a round-trip flight Friday morning from Dover Air Force Base, where he served as co-pilot on one of two flights done especially for his birthday.

By the way he disembarked from the plane, it was hard to tell that McGee, a Tuskegee Airman, was turning 100.

Read More Show Less
(U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Stephane Belcher)

The 2020 National Defense Authorization Act would allow service members to seek compensation when military doctors make mistakes that harm them, but they would still be unable to file medical malpractice lawsuits against the federal government.

On Monday night, Congress announced that it had finalized the NDAA, which must be passed by the House and Senate before going to President Donald Trump. If the president signs the NDAA into law, it would mark the first time in nearly seven decades that U.S. military personnel have had legal recourse to seek payment from the military in cases of medical malpractice.

Read More Show Less
Maj. Jason Michael Musgrove (Lincoln County Sheriff's Office)

A major serving at U.S. Army Cyber Command has been charged with distributing child pornography, according to the Justice Department.

Maj. Jason Michael Musgrove, who is based at Fort Gordon, Georgia, has been remanded to the U.S. Marshals service, a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Georgia says.

Read More Show Less