A Home for a Hero
When U.S. Army Capt. Luis Avila encountered an improvised explosive device while leading his combat team in Afghanistan, his life changed forever. Although he survived, his injuries made even the simplest tasks — such as showering or turning on a light switch — nearly impossible. Stairs, high cabinets and many other ordinary household items all became obstacles.
Through its continued partnership with the Gary Sinise Foundation, the Knights of Columbus helped Capt. Avila overcome those obstacles by building him and his family a new custom smart home. The smart home was dedicated on Veterans Day in Chevy Chase, Md.
“I speak for all my brother Knights and their families when I tell you just how proud we are to partner with the Gary Sinise Foundation to build this smart home for Capt. Luis Avila; his wife, Claudia; and their three sons,” said Knights of Columbus Supreme Director Patrick Kelly, who represented the Order at the dedication.
“Capt. Avila is a Fourth Degree member of the Knights of Columbus,” Kelly continued. “We are proud to call him a brother Knight — not only for the heroism he displayed in combat, but also for the courage with which he has faced his injuries. And as a family organization, we recognize that no soldier stands alone. Our prayers and support also are with his beautiful family as they start this new chapter in their lives.”
Supreme Director Kelly mentioned that the partnership with the Gary Sinise Foundation is part of the Knights of Columbus’ century-old tradition of assisting veterans and military families. During World War I, the Knights of Columbus established hospitality centers throughout Europe to serve the physical and spiritual needs of Allied soldiers under the motto of “Everybody Welcome, Everything Free.”
More recently, the Knights began offering wounded warriors an opportunity for rest and healing through the sponsorship and planning of the annual Warriors to Lourdes Pilgrimage, held each May in conjunction with the annual International Military Pilgrimage to Lourdes (PMI). Capt. Avila and his wife Claudia are two-time attendees of the WTL pilgrimage.
“Over the course of the past century, our commitment to our nation’s servicemen and servicewomen has never wavered,” Kelly said. “Through the Second World War, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, we have been steadfast in our commitment to serving those who serve. This smart home is the most recent example. It is an expression of the solidarity that we have with Capt. Avila and his family — and with all the veterans who have served this nation. The Knights of Columbus is proud of our partnership with the Gary Sinise Foundation and proud to be part of the effort to provide our heroes with homes that are worthy of their sacrifice.”
At the dedication was a color corps of Fourth Degree Knights, as well as other members of the Order from the local, state and international levels. Actor and humanitarian Gary Sinise also attended, thanking the Knights of Columbus for their support.
Under its Restoring Independence Supporting Empowerment (R.I.S.E.) program, the Gary Sinise Foundation is building specially adapted smart homes for the nation’s most severely wounded veterans. These one-of-a-kind homes are being constructed all across the country for wounded heroes, their caregivers and families.
In 2014, the Knights of Columbus began its partnership with the Gary Sinise Foundation, assisting in the creation of a smart home for Cpl. Kyle Hockenberry and his wife, Ashley.
For more information on the Gary Sinise Foundation, please visit GarySiniseFoundation.org.