PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Thousands of soldiers and Marines are coming home from war — some of them with injuries that have changed their lives forever.
Now, a Hollywood actor and a group in New York are reaching out to help a Marine sergeant from right here in Pittsburgh.
Doug Vitale is coming home soon — much different than the young man who graduated from Kiski Area High School in 2005. The Marine Corps sergeant lost both legs above the knee and suffered strokes to both sides of the brain when he stepped on an IED while leading a patrol in Afghanistan.
For two years, Vitale has worked through rehab in Tampa Fla. A benefit concert next month will raise money to help build a smart home for the couple here in Pittsburgh.
“To complete it, we need your help. We are looking for corporate sponsors and we are looking for contractors and philanthropists to join us in what we are calling Operation Doug,” Chris Kuban said.
The main act is Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band. The foundation of the CSI actor and “Forrest Gump” co-star supports defenders, veterans and first responders. Sinise’s group is working with the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, which was formed in memory of a New York fireman who died on Sept. 11.
“He is a bona fide star, He’s a bona fide celebrity, yet he chooses to spend so much of his time taking care of the military and the veterans around the United States,” John Hodge with the Stephen Sillers Tunnel To Towers Foundation said.
The high-tech home will be built in Peters Township, but it has a hefty half million dollar price tag.
“For us to be able to live more independently and for Doug to have the best quality of life that he can with his injury means a lot to us,” Alexis Vitale said.
VFW Post 764 in McMurray has already raised more than $90,000 for the family.
Listen to Chris Kuban, Director of Media Relations for Tunnel to Towers, on NewsRadio 1020 KDKA:
“We as a VFW and the families, we got you a good start. So, come one Pittsburgh, let’s do what you always do. Let’s fill Stage AE and make this thing happen,” VFW Post 764 Post Commander Scott Huenefeld said.
The concert is Aug. 9 at Stage AE on the North Shore. For tickets, go to OperationDoug.com.