|Army 1SG William "Mike" Leonard|
Army 1SG William "Mike" Leonard and his family received the keys to their home in Peoria, Ariz. during Veterans Weekend 2013. Built at no cost to severely wounded veterans by Homes For Our Troops (HFOT), a national nonprofit, non-partisan organization, these projects depend on labor donated by contractors and skilled workers and from donated materials, such as flooring from Armstrong.
The specially adapted homes built by HFOT include many products that help the veterans participate in and enjoy daily life with their families. Each home is designed to provide maximum freedom of movement and the ability to live more independently after returning injured from service.
Arizona flooring retailer Phil Koufidakis, president of Baker Brothers, says his organization is proud to have assisted with the installation of the hardwood floors and Alterna engineered tile in the home. “We feel very fortunate to know that in some small way we are part of Sgt Leonard’s reintegration back at home and in our community,” he says. “This Veterans Day, I am thinking even more about the significance of this holiday and to truly thank all our veterans for what they and their families have sacrificed.”
Baker Brothers has been an Arizona family owned and operated flooring company since 1945. “With over 60 years of experience in the community, we have been fortunate to help many friends and their families, and we are honored to play a role in the building of Sgt. Leonard’s home,” says Koufidakis. Baker Bros has always been committed to offering the finest flooring brands, and as an Armstrong Elite Dealer, it offers an extensive selection of Armstrong floor samples in each of their seven showrooms, including the new American Scrape™ hardwood collection. A portion of sales from American Scrape support Armstrong’s donation of flooring donation in 2013 to HFOT. Armstrong distributor TriWest also donated 50% of the Alterna product for this build, and has participated in other HFOT projects as well.
Army 1SG William “Mike” Leonard was on his 4th deployment when he lost both of his legs in an IED blast in Southern Helmand Province, Afghanistan on March 22, 2010. While escorting an Afghan Army support squad back to base after they had participated in the initial phase of a search mission, the Medical Evacuation Vehicle carrying 1SG Leonard and his teammates ran over an IED, the blast tearing into the vehicle.
In a coma for three days, and revived a total of three times, 1SG Leonard had no recollection of being in Bagram, Afghanistan or Landstuhl, Germany before waking up at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, his wife, Cheryl by his side. It was then that Mike learned that he had lost his right leg below the knee, seriously injured his left foot which eventually needed to be amputated, broken his back, had loss of vision in his right eye, and suffered hearing losses in both ears.
Mike has endured nearly twenty surgeries, and continues receiving therapies and treatments at this time. 1SG Leonard enjoys, many sports including; swimming, walking, running, and cycling. A NASCAR fan, he enjoys traveling to races and sporting events including baseball and football games. His interest in history was peaked while stationed in Europe between back-to-back deployments in 2003-2006. Time spent with family is important to both Mike and Cheryl. Their dog, Hogan is a constant companion who has never forgotten Mike, even after his long deployments and hospitalization.
When asked how his new Homes for Our Troops home will make a difference in his daily life, Mike shared the following thoughts; “My injuries were life changing events that left us unsure of my future and with many questions about where we would live and how I would be able to make a living and pay a mortgage. To have no mortgage payments and to be able to JUST LIVE and to try to be an inspiration to others is a huge burden lifted off of our shoulders. Living in an accessible home built to suit my specific needs will be amazing. This will enable me/us to focus on living and helping others…we can ‘pay it forward’ and remember to never forget. Thank you for having such huge hearts…we are so lucky to have the support of others surrounding us.”
70% of HFOT funds raised are through individual contributions from across the country. To find out how you can help, visit Homes For Our Troops online.