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Wounded Iraq War veteran gets custom-built home through Gary Sinise’s charity

Retired Army Capt. Juan Guerrero and his family moved into a specialized smart home, mortgage-free, outside of San Antonio, Texas, last week.

Guerrero, who was critically wounded by a roadside bomb in Iraq and eventually lost both of his legs, received the home from the Gary Sinise Foundation, started by the Academy Award-nominated actor of the same name.

The foundation provides houses to veterans who were seriously wounded in combat. Its representatives worked closely with Juan Guerrero and his wife, Shannon, to design and build the home that would best meet the wounded soldier’s needs, the couple told Army Times.

“It’s definitely overwhelming,” Guerrero said. “Every single room is accessible for me in a wheelchair.”

The Gary Sinise Foundation dedicates a new smart home to retired Army Capt. Juan Guerrero and his family in Boerne, Texas on June 17, 2021. (Julia Robinson/courtesy photo)
The Gary Sinise Foundation dedicates a new smart home to retired Army Capt. Juan Guerrero and his family in Boerne, Texas on June 17, 2021. (Julia Robinson/courtesy photo)

Guerrero spent 23 years in the military — four years in the Marine Corps and nearly two decades in the Army.

He was on the way back from a mission in 2007 when his vehicle was struck by an explosively formed penetrator, believed to be one of the most lethal weapons faced by U.S. troops in Iraq.

The explosion left Guerrero with severe injuries to both legs, and during recovery, he was diagnosed with a rare form of skin cancer because of his injuries.

Guerrero is now a double amputee. But until he moved into his new home, he was living in a house that was not designed for someone with his injuries.

Guerrero’s new house includes a variety of custom-built accommodations including a cut-out under the kitchen sink, pull down racks in the cabinets and pull-down bars in the closet so Guerrero can hang his clothes.

Juan Guerrero and his wife check out their specially adapted shower. (Julia Robinson/courtesy photo)
Juan Guerrero and his wife check out their specially adapted shower. (Julia Robinson/courtesy photo)

Guerrero’s favorite part of the house is his new bathroom. It features a shower with a bench customized to his height.

“I like to joke that I haven’t had a shower in 11 years,” Guerrero said. “It’s going to be amazing.”

Everything else is a bonus for Guerrero. His four kids all get their own room and there’s a pantry he can wheel his chair into. Two dishwashers also mean there’s enough space for all six people in his family.

The Guerreros learned about the Gary Sinise Foundation after J.J. went to the dedication of a house for a friend who had also been wounded in battle.

Juan Guerrero and his children see their new rooms at the home outside San Antonio, Texas. (Julia Robinson/courtesy photo)
Juan Guerrero and his children see their new rooms at the home outside San Antonio, Texas. (Julia Robinson/courtesy photo)

He applied for the program in November 2018 and began the long process of vetting that the foundation requires to ensure that the housing goes to the most deserving candidates.

In November 2019, Gary Sinise called to tell Guerrero his application was approved, and the process of designing the house began.

Shannon said she did most of the work with designing, but emphasized the house was built for the needs of, and to the specifications of her husband.

“To see my husband finally able to live free in our own home, its truly incredible,” Shannon said.

Juan Guerrero said that it’s like “living in the future” and that he can’t wait to get fully moved in. He said that the foundation really thought about everything and the feeling of moving into a home that’s built for him is overwhelming.

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