Wounded soldier breaks ground on "Smart Home" free of charge

FORT BENNING, GA (WTVM) - Sergeant first class Michael Schlitz lost his arms and 85% of his body burned when an improvised explosive device hit his vehicle in Iraq six years ago.

But today, his heart is filled with joy.

Schlitz drove a bulldozer over the property Monday, knocking down trees on the land in Fortson, a place he'll soon call home.

"It's very humbling. What can you say, when you see your brothers and sisters who are just as wounded as you are and you have this great opportunity?" asked Schlitz.

Schlitz is one of seven severely injured soldiers to have a home built from the ground up at no cost--thanks to a partnership called "Building for America's Bravest" between the Tunnel to Towers Foundation and the Gary Sinise Foundation.

The award winning actor's partners read a letter from him.

"It is truly an honor to support such an upstanding man as Michael Schlitz," said Sinise's partners.

"Although we are a New York-based organization, we look for local builders, local architects, trades and we get everyone to work together to reduce our cost," explained Terrence Tierney.

That's exactly what they've done to turn this artist rending of the home into a livable masterpiece control and operated by an iPad.

"That means the lighting, the doorways, accessible cabinets in the kitchen, anything that helps him get around, he'll be able to do that by his iPad with entertainment systems and music in all the rooms."

It's a wonderful gift for Schlitz and his mom, who will have her own living quarters as she takes care of her son.

"If you look at the house I live in now, I currently live in Texas. The house is all scraped up, the light switches, I hit all the time, a lot of dings and scratches, I basically break everything."

By July, the home will be finished and ready for this American hero to move in and the foundation will then move on to its next location...brightening the day of another wounded soldier.

Applicants are considered based on their injuries and needs of the family.

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