PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Begun in August of last year, injured Afghanistan war veteran Doug Vitale’s house construction is in the final stages.
There from the start, the brains behind the operation has been John Ponte.
“This home is our tenth home we are building,” said Ponte with Tunnel to Towers. “Every one of the guys have different capabilities and non-capabilities.”
Marine Sgt. Vitale suffered catastrophic injuries from an IED. He uses a wheelchair. His new home accommodates this, for instance in the kitchen area.
“The cabinets coming down to wheelchair level,” Ponte said. “The sink moves up and down … everything is designed much wider allowing the wheelchair to move with comfort.”
And every part of the home is wired into an electric brain.
“We have automatic lights,” Ponte said. “We’re currently working with the VA to develop software that Doug is going to be able to control his home with his eyes.”
KDKA’s Ross Guidotti got to try the software.
There’s a lot more to the $500,000 home than just the technology. It’s beautifully appointed and with an elevator you can access the bottom floor.
But for everyone here, it’s not the hardwood floors or the hardwired tech — this place is about a young marine named Doug and his bride and helping them make their way.
“I want to give these guys their independence back,” Ponte said. “It’s all about giving and taking care of the guys who take care of us.”