|Cpl. Ronny “Tony” Porta thanks friends and well-wishers at the groundbreaking of his smart home in Lovettsville. Courtesy Photo|
Cpl. Ronny “Tony” Porta lost two friends when his Humvee struck an improvised explosive device in Iraq on May 5, 2007. Porta survived, but he lost an arm, three fingers on his other hand, and suffered severe burns over most of his body. He wondered if he would ever have the things he wanted in life: love, family and a real home.
A year later with staples and bandages covering his face and body, a woman told him he would be blessed the rest of his life. Porta said he didn’t quite believe it.
Today he’s a believer.
Last week Porta was escorted by an honor brigade to the site of his new home, a specially designed smart home, in Lovettsville. Addressing a crowd of 100 people at the groundbreaking, he recalled the woman who said he was blessed.
“Now I know what she’s talking about. I have a wife, a son and I have met wonderful people like you, and now this house,” he said.
Porta was one of five veterans in the U.S. receiving customized homes from Building for America’s Bravest, a program of the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation. Smart homes are built for catastrophically injured service members. Each home is custom designed to address the unique needs of each veteran. Energy efficient, automated and easily accessible – these homes use adaptive technology to help severely injured heroes live better, more independent lives.
Support from the Lovettsville community also helped pay for the home's construction.
Porta said that he initially moved to Lovettsville to get away from people. “Now that I have met the people here, I realize this town is so amazing,” he said. His home will be completed in about six months.
Katherine Heerbrandt conducted additional reporting for this story.