New Jersey veteran receives new 'smart home' from 9/11 charity

·2 min read

A 9/11 charity left a New Jersey veteran "absolutely speechless" when it gifted him a home Thursday.

Marine Sgt. Aaron Alonso stepped on an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan in 2014, losing his legs but beating the "sub-1%" chance he had of surviving at all.

When he did get home, life was never going to be the same.

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The Tunnel to Towers Foundation (T2T) noted in 2019 that it would begin building Alonso a new smart home in the township of Hampton.

The smart home is specially customized for Alonso, according to Fox 5 New York. It features drop-down cabinets and lower placements for microwaves and light switches so that he can reach them from his wheelchair.

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"It is freedom. It’s independence," Alonso said. "It’s someplace where I can gather with my family."

"I'm absolutely speechless right now," Alonso added. "Anybody that's out there that knows me can tell you that this doesn't ever really happen."

T2T was founded by Frank Siller following the death of his brother, Stephen, on 9/11. Stephen gave his life as a firefighter to help victims of the attack on the World Trade Center.

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The foundation raises money to help families of severely injured or recently fallen veterans and first responders to provide them with mortgage-free homes.

"When somebody serves, it's not just the individual who serves; it's the family," Siller told the New Jersey Herald. "We want to thank the Alonso family for the sacrifice you have made along with Aaron. God knows that you have felt the loss that he has had personally, but you are now going to, with him, come out the other side."

The timing of the gift provided Alonso a chance to also pay tribute to those who do not make it home. He urged those who attended the gifting ceremony to thank former service members or visit veterans cemeteries on Memorial Day.

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"Better yet, go find a Gold Star family and thank them for their service because they're the ones that also sacrifice so much," Alonso said. "Losing a loved one is never easy, and when it's your better half – your son, your daughter, your brother – it can definitely be difficult."