Injured Veteran Getting Western Pa.’s Second SMART Home

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — An injured veteran and his family are getting a new smart home. It’s under construction in Lawrence County, and it’s designed to make their day-to-day lives a little easier.

Eric Burkett grew up military. He dreamed of one day joining the Marines. But that dream turned into a nightmare five years ago when the Osprey aircraft he was flying crashed on a mission over Morocco.

Burkett lost his leg, part of his vision and had damage to his lungs.

Since then, he’s worked hard to get back into the best physical condition. He even participated in the 2013 Boston Marathon.

But one thing was clear, Major Burkett and his family would never be able to live in a regular house.

That’s where actor Gary Sinise’s Foundation came to the rescue. Their RISE program, Restoring Independence Supporting Empowerment, is building the Burketts a SMART home near family and friends in Lawrence County.

It’ll be the second RISE house built in Pennsylvania.

The first was in Venetia. It went to Sgt. Doug Vitale and his wife, Alexis. Vitale was wounded by a land mine in Afghanistan.

The home, built and paid for by the foundation and hundreds of local volunteers, has given the Vitales some freedom. And the Burketts will soon get some, too.

On Monday, the Gary Sinise Foundation will host what’s called a Walls of Honor event where veterans, community leaders, family and friends can write inspirational messages on the walls of the Burkett’s new home, which should be finished next year.

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