FALLBROOK, Calif. --
“Too often we take for granted the fact that our freedom and security is fought for and provided through the service of brave and courageous service members,” said Judith Otter, the executive director of the Gary Sinise Foundation.
“These special individuals willingly place themselves in harm’s way each and every day to make our lives safer here at home. That is why, throughout the often uncertain lives of our defenders and families, America’s gratitude should remain an unquestioned constant.”
With support of multiple programs and foundations, the Gary Sinise Foundation proudly presented Sgt. Nick Kimmel a custom Smart Home Jan. 5, 2016 in Fallbrook, California.
The Gary Sinise Foundation was established under the philanthropic direction of a 30-plus year advocate for service members, actor Gary Sinise, whose outreach is focused on those who defend our nation.
A “Smart Home” is one that provides comfort, security, energy efficiency and convenience to the home owner at all times by being accessible via mobile devices such as computers, phones and tablets.
Kimmel grew up in a small town in central Washington. He was offered a baseball scholarship after high school, but instead joined the Marine Corps in 2008 as a combat engineer with the 9th Engineer Support Battalion in Okinawa, Japan.
On Dec. 1, 2011, Kimmel was building a patrol base for the Georgian army just south of the Kajaki Dam in Helmand province, Afghanistan. Kimmel said he was standing on the forks of a Tractor, Rubber Tired, Articulated Streering, Multi-purpose vehicle ensuring a guard post’s roof was sturdy.
“When I jumped from the forks, I ended up landing on a 40-pound improvised explosive device and was knocked unconscious, losing both legs and my left arm,” Kimmel said. “I don’t remember anything from the explosion itself.”
Kimmel woke up three days later at Walter Reed National Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. While there, Kimmel said he had surgery every other day for an entire month. On Jan. 1, 2012, Kimmel flew with his father, Rick, to Naval Medical Center San Diego for his outpatient and physical therapy. Doctors told him it would take 13 to 15 months to walk on prosthetics —he did so in seven. Kimmel was even able to fly to Japan with his father for his unit’s homecoming.
“I remember very well the day at Naval Medical Center San Diego, discussing with Nick and his father the possibility of building him a home,” Sinise said. “I am thrilled that this day has finally arrived and I wish I could be there today to thank Nick personally for everything he has given in service to our country, and wish him all the best.”
Sinise also added that it was of great privilege for him to have met Nick and that he was deeply inspired by Nick’s resilience and courage.
Kimmel attends Vincennes University at Balboa where he is working on his transfer degree. Afterward, he plans to attend San Diego State University to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering.
“While we can never do enough to show gratitude to our nation’s defenders, we can always do more,” said Sinise.