On Monday, December 19, 2022 Tunnel to Towers, in partnership with The Home Depot Foundation, welcomed U.S. Army Specialist Maggie Mae Bilyeu and her wife Mia to their specially adapted, mortgage-free smart home in Lago Vista, Texas.
SPC Bilyeu was born and raised in Owaneco, Illinois. In 2015, at the age of 25, she followed in the footsteps of both her grandfathers by joining the U.S. Army. She was stationed at Fort Hood for basic training prior to her deployment to Bagram, Afghanistan, later that year. In early 2016, just a few months into her deployment as part of Operation Freedom Sentinel, SPC Bilyeu was struck by a suicide bomber. She sustained multiple shrapnel wounds to her chest and torso, a broken leg, and numerous internal injuries as a result of the blast. Two American soldiers and two American contractors were killed in the incident. Since then, Maggie has been working hard at her rehabilitation. She enjoys the simple pleasures in life, such as fishing, hunting, and kayaking.
Maggie’s new smart home is completely accessible, with automatic doors, oversized doorways, and wider hallways. Every feature of SPC Bilyeu’s home can be controlled through a tablet or a smart device.
In early 2020, The Tunnel to Towers Foundation and The Home Depot Foundation surprised Maggie on Good Morning America, with the promise to build her a mortgage-free smart home. A longstanding partner of the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, The Home Depot Foundation has partnered to build more than 90 smart homes for combat wounded veterans as part of its commitment to invest $500 million in veteran causes by 2025.
In attendance at SPC Bilyeu’s dedication ceremony were Mayor of Lago Vista Ed Tidwell, Lago Vista Police Chief Gary Boshears, Travis County Fire Chief Donnie Norman, Tunnel to Towers Founding Board Member & Ret. FDNY Battalion Commander John LaBarbera, Heather Prill from the Home Depot Foundation, and VIPs from Tunnel to Towers’ National Sponsors & Partners, and the Lago Vista community.
The Tunnel to Towers Foundation’s Smart Home Program builds specially adapted smart homes to help our most catastrophically injured veterans and first responders reclaim their day-to-day independence.These homes come with high tech features including automated doors and lighting, wider halls and doorways, special showers to accommodate wheelchairs, and automatic door openers.
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The Home Depot Foundation works to improve the homes and lives of U.S. veterans, support communities impacted by natural disasters and train skilled tradespeople to fill the labor gap. Since 2011, the Foundation has invested more than $400 million in veteran causes and improved more than 50,000 veteran homes and facilities. The Foundation has pledged to invest half of a billion dollars in veteran causes by 2025 and $50 million in training the next generation of skilled tradespeople through the Path to Pro program.
To learn more about The Home Depot Foundation visit HomeDepotFoundation.org and follow them on Twitter @HomeDepotFound, on Facebook and on Instagram @HomeDepotFoundation.