An open letter from Tunnel to Towers Smart Home Program Recipient USMC SGT Michael Sulsona.
In 1971, I lost both legs a to land mine in Vietnam while serving as a Marine. Walking point I stepped on a land mine, setting off an ambush. I received my last rights three times before I got back to the states. Forty-plus years later I’m still alive, with my family, getting ready to be welcomed into my new smart home: a wheelchair-accessible, mortgage-free home provided by the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation.
This gift is a far cry from the troubled welcome the Vietnam veteran community experienced when we first came home.
On July 2, 2019, I raised the American flag outside my new home with Frank Siller, Stephen Siller’s older brother while my family and friends looked on.
The difference started at the front door, an automatic door that opened and stayed open so I could roll in. I was the first catastrophically injured Vietnam veteran to have a smart home built by the Stephen Siller Foundation. Not only did I enter the home with my family and friends, I opened the door to Vietnam veterans wounded on the field of battle to participate in this life-changing program.
The family of firefighter Stephen Siller, who lost his life on 9/11, created this Foundation that brought a honors the sacrifices first responders and our nation’s service men and woman give to this country every day.
As Frank, Stephen’s older brother pushed my wheelchair inside I passed my new office a bathroom where I can make a full 360 turn in my chair without hitting a wall. Then an elevator, before I rolled into a grand living room which led to a dining room and then a kitchen with counters lower for me to prepare meals and an adjustable stove, that raised and lowered to a desirable height, so I could cook. A faucet that tuned on and off by touch. A microwave installed low enough that I can easily access it. French doors in the dining room opened to a backyard with a barbeque and an emergency generator to the side.
The master bedroom came with an adjustable bed and a full dressing room that led to a master bathroom with a jacuzzi, a double wide shower and bench.
All of these features everything I need is for the first time all at ground level. There is nothing keeling me from rolling through my home.
A mortgage-free smart home will undoubtedly change my life.
For me the smart home The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation provided to me and for the dozens of other catastrophically injured veterans around the country is symbolic of the strength in doing good.
The Foundation has created a simple way for us all to join together and do good. As a Vietnam veteran and a Marine experiencing combat, we lived by the credo to leave no one behind.
Stephen Siller entered the South Tower on 9/11 he took his last breath with the intent to leave no one behind. His family’s work in his memory will make sure that his final actions serve as an example of how we should live, to makelife better for others one good deed at a time.