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Community Members Leave Mark In Wounded Veteran's New SMART Home

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NESHANNOCK TOWNSHIP (KDKA) -- It was an emotional day for a U.S. Marine, who was critically injured in combat, as a new home designed especially for him and his family got some special touches from those who made it happen.

It's a miracle that Maj. Eric Burkett can even walk into his family's new Lawrence County house.

Five years ago, Burkett was critically injured when the Osprey aircraft he was flying crashed on a mission over Morocco. Both of his legs were shattered, and one had to be amputated.

Fast forward and a lot of hard work and prayers later, a "smart house," funded by donations from actor Gary Sinise's foundation, will soon be the family's new home.

"This is just a way of saying thank you for your service, thank you for your sacrifice, thank you for your commitment to your country," said Chris Cuban, of the Gary Sinise Foundation.

By the end of this year, the foundation will have built or started 61 homes in towns all across the United States. Burkett's home is being built in Neshannock Township, on land donated by family who live nearby, and constructed with donated materials and labor.

Burkett and his wife have six children, including twin daughters who were born since his crash. The smart home is being built to be open and accessible for him with plenty of room outside for the kids to play.

But it will also have something no regular home has: "Walls of Honor," signed by veterans, volunteers, sponsors and donors who made it possible.

"Those walls are going to be covered up with drywall, but these words will remain indefinitely inside this house," Cuban said.

"Whether it was building this house, or supporting our family, praying for us, loving us, being a knucklehead on Facebook, whatever. It's beyond words what this house means to us," said Burkett. "I wish there was a bigger word than thank you."


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