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Community comes together helping Wounded Warrior
Shelley Waite, wife of Sgt. 1st Class David Waite, smiles admiring as she shows off the work the volunteers with Operation Opening Doors did to her home at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Aug. 12, 2010. Sergeant Waite, is a wounded warrior and recipient of the first Alaskan Operation Opening Doors project, which spent over $40,000 worth of donated supplies and man-hours to improve Sergeant Waite's home to better accomidate his disabilities. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Jack Sanders)
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Community comes together helping Wounded Warrior

Posted 8/20/2010   Updated 8/20/2010 Email story   Print story


by Airman 1st Class Jack Sanders

8/20/2010 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- The Anchorage community bonded together to help a wounded warrior from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Aug. 12.

Sgt. 1st Class David Waite, Warrior Transition Battalion, platoon sergeant cut the ribbon for his newly refurbished home after a makeover by Operation Opening Doors, Aug 12. This is the first Alaska-based project the group has done.

During a tour in Afghanistan Sergeant Waite's leg was injured by an explosion. Because of his injuries Sergeant Waite has some trouble getting around.

The nonprofit organization, along with a group of volunteers, were able to help Sergeant Waite and his family by making some upgrades to their home.

"All the work they did was just awesome," Sergeant Waite said. "Operation Opening Doors was something that was established in one of the other states ... and it caught on really well. Then with the Association of General Contractors here and Alaska, they decided they wanted to start up a project and were looking for a recipient who qualified for it."

Sergeant Waite's wife, Shelley Waite, said, "He came home one day and said, 'Honey we kind of just won the lottery.'"

According to Capt. Timothy Galloway, A Company, Warrior Transition Battalion commander, Sergeant Waite was an easy choice to be the recipient for this project. "I don't think we could have picked a more deserving candidate," Captain Galloway said.

"They came to the house and asked a bunch of questions about what they could do to improve the house and make it a little bit safer for me," Sergeant Waite said. "Asked me a little about some of my disabilities and basically what they could fix. I told them, 'Well if I can have anything, I need to get my driveway fixed, because I was planning on doing that any way.' I'd step out here when it's icy and I'd wind up on my back and slide down into the road. They went through the house and said, 'Well we can do this and make it easier to go up and down the stairs and we can do this in the bathrooms and make it easier to get in and out of the tub,' basically they just went through and looked at the house and just went over a bunch of things that they could do to make it easier with my disability.

"They coordinated all the construction companies and everybody who was involved here and donated their time and their money and their materials. The past couple of months in and out we've had guys pouring concrete and doing construction. It's been pretty neat," Sergeant Waite said.

The organization and volunteers began working in late March and finished for the ribbon cutting ceremony Aug. 12, Captain Galloway said.

Sergeant Waite's job is platoon sergeant for the Wounded Warrior Battalion.

"(Instead of being kicked out) they allowed me to go over to the WTB. The Wounded Warrior Transition Battalion and I've been working as cadre over there for almost three years kind of helping some of these other guys that are coming back with issues, and I figured that's as good a job as any for me," Sergeant Waite said.

Sergeant Waite will reach 20 years of military service in October.

To all that worked in some way on this project Sergeant Waite said, "Thank you. It's amazing to me that a community can pull together like this to do a project for a wounded vet. You just don't see much of that anymore and I think it's awesome."

Over $40,000 worth of supplies and man-hours were donated for Operation Opening Doors first Alaska project.

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