PETERS TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — American troops in Afghanistan face death with every step from explosives buried in rocky soil.

Marine Corporal Doug Vitale and wife, Alexis, married in Peters Township, had their lives turned upside down last September when he stepped on an IED in Afghanistan.

“His injuries were pretty profound,” says his mother-in-law. “He lost both legs, and he does have a traumatic brain injury.”

Denise Abraham says Corporal Vitale and Alexis face each day with hope, at a rehab facility in Tampa.

“He had a couple of strokes related to the brain injury in those early days, and we’re not sure what he’ll recover. So they work every day, work hard every day, with four hours of therapy, trying to make as much progress as they can.”

Denise took their story to VFW post 764 in McMurray. She teamed up with post commander Scott Huenfeld to promote a fundraiser, a “Hero Walk,” for Corporal Doug Vitale.

“When I served,” says Huenfeld, “we were 15 percent of the population. Kids that are serving today are one percent.”

The Saturday morning Hero Walk, on the Warrior Trail in Peters, will help raise funds for construction of a new house in the Pittsburgh area – a so-called “smart home.” The homes are constructed with funds from the Gary Sinise and Tunnel to Towers foundations.

“It will be designed to meet the needs, the specific needs that Doug has,” says his mother-in-law. “This is our first step to help them, to bring the kids home.”

The Hero Walk steps off at 9 a.m. at VFW Post 764 in McMurray. A lunch at noon follows. For more information, call 724-941-3358 or e-mail

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