Iraq Veteran is surprised with new 'smart home'

Posted at 10:07 AM, Oct 27, 2017

A homecoming celebration for United States Marine Corporal Mark O'Brien in East Aurora. 

The purple heart recipient as well as his wife, Michelle, and their two children, Jack and Nathan were surprised Thursday morning with a smart home presented by the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation.

Corporal O'Brien was injured on November 8, 2004 when a grenade struck his military truck in Iraq. He lost his right arm and right leg and suffered brain injuries.

"I've come a long way from laying on that street bleeding to death to now," O'Brien said.

The Tunnel to Towers Foundation honors those who serve and make sacrifices to serve our country. 

The foundation builds mortgage-free smart homes for catastrophically injured service members through their Building for America's Bravest program

Smart homes have special features to address specific needs of each individual.  O'Brien's smart home accommodates wheelchairs, automated door openers, and lighting systems controlled by tablets as well as other features. 

"I'm not going to have to stand over a stove on one leg. I'm going to be able to get to the microwave and get to the shelves," O'Brien said.

"They have given us the opportunity to have him feel like he can move around and be in a home and function the right way," Michelle O'Brien said.

The program has completed 56 homes for veterans so far and pledges to build 200. 

Mercy Flight was a part of the celebration with a special helicopter flyover salute.

O'Brien also received an autographed Buffalo Sabres hockey puck from goaltender, Robin Lehner, which is his favorite hockey team.