Our State Motto: Salus populi suprema lex esto, “Let the welfare of the people be the supreme law.”

On May 4, 2010, Nathan Shumaker was on his second deployment in Afghanistan when an enemy mortar strike hit him and his unit. He was medevaced to Asadabad, then to Jalalabad, both in Afghanistan, and finally transported to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland where he learned that he had lost his right leg and had damage to the left.

During his hospital stay, he learned about Homes For Our Troops (HFOT), a nonprofit that builds and donates specially adapted custom homes for severely injured post-9/11 veterans all over the United States. After the application process, Nate qualified for a home in 2017.

“Ever since we talked to them about the application process, they’ve been extremely helpful,” Nate says. “They’re nothing but

nice to us. If we had a question, they answered it. And if they didn’t know the answer, they found it.”

He and his wife Missy are both from Missouri, so they chose to have their home built in Hillsboro to remain close to family. In September 2020, Nate, Missy, and their two children—Ely, seven, and Kaylee, four—received the three hundredth home built by HFOT.

Nate and Missy and their two children, Ely and Kaylee, enjoy family time in their new home.

“It was an overwhelming sense of joy,” Nate says, “knowing that my wife can leave the house and not worry about me or the kids because there are no stairs. That was my biggest hurdle because we had a two-story house and a basement.”

HFOT has built four homes for veterans in Missouri, in Lee’s Summit, Columbia, Festus, and Hillsboro, and one is currently in progress in Chesterfield. The homes are just over 2,800 square feet, mortgage-free, energy efficient, and they have more than forty major special adaptations. A couple of Nate’s favorite parts about the house are the roll-in shower and the lowered countertops and kitchen appliances.

“I can get up and not have to worry about putting my leg on right away or use my crutches to go downstairs,” Nate says. “I can roll around in my wheelchair if I really need to or if I want to. It’s nice to have that option because I didn’t have it before.”

Some of the special adaptations for wheelchairs in the home are roll-under access at countertops and sinks, pull-down shelving, vinyl plank floors, and widened doorways and hallways. There is also a therapy tub.

Teresa Verity, marketing associate at HFOT says, “Rebuilding lives is the most important aspect of our mission; therefore, we stay with our veterans after home delivery.” HFOT provides a free financial planner for three years after the home is built, covers anything broken in the home during the first year, and has a peer mentoring program for veterans and spouses. In addition, Wayfair, one of the corporate partners, furnished the Shumaker’s entire home.

“We strive to provide the linkage between the veteran and the assistance he or she needs,” Teresa says.

After his injury, Nate earned his bachelor’s and master’s degree in social work from St. Louis University and now works as a caseworker at Comtrea Health Center.

“Despite their life-altering injuries, many of our veterans have embarked on new careers, completed their college degrees, or started families,” Teresa says. “Empowered by the freedom a donated, specially adapted custom home brings, these veterans can now focus on their recovery and returning to their life’s work of serving others.”

To learn more about the nonprofit and get involved, visit HFOTUSA.org.

Photos // Jason Winkeler