Michael Monthervil is grateful to HFOT and the community for their support and is looking forward to the community kickoff for his new home on Saturday, July 27.

The community is invited to celebrate the kickoff of the building of a home custom-made in Wimauma for Army Specialist Michael Monthervil, who fell on his neck during a training exercise in Afghanistan, causing a spinal cord injury and leaving him a paraplegic. This house, to be built by Homes For Our Troops (HFOT), will be specially adapted for his disability.

HFOT is a publicly funded, 501(c)(3), nonprofit organization that builds and donates custom homes nationwide for severely injured post-9/11 veterans. With these accessible homes—which are built where veterans choose to live—they can get back some of their freedom and independence and focus on family, recovering and rebuilding their lives.

HFOT’s homes feature over 40 major adaptations and exceed ADA compliance standards. According to its website, “These adaptations include wider halls and doorways, automatic door openers, roll under sinks, stove tops, and counters, pull down shelving, generators and safe rooms, all designed to help the veteran live independently.”

Since its inception in 2004, HFOT has built over 270 homes nationwide for veterans in need.

Monthervil found HFOT while getting therapy at a VA medical center, and soon after, he said, “I remember back in 2015 and finding out that I was getting my own accessible home. To learn I can gain my independence back, it was pretty much the best day of my life.”

As Monthervil’s old home offers little space for him to maneuver around due to his wheelchair and some places are too high to reach, Ashley Nickles, his girlfriend and caretaker, often needs to help him, so this custom home will give him back freedom and independence. Construction should take six to eight months.

“I’ve gone to a few community kickoffs…and I can’t wait until my day comes. The excitement of them starting on my home, it’s great and awesome. And for the community to come out and support me, that’s going to be awesome,” said Monthervil.

The ceremony takes place on Saturday, July 27 at the Firehouse Cultural Center at 101 1st Ave. NE. in Ruskin and will be followed by an opportunity to meet Monthervil and lunch. Registration for the event is at 9:30 a.m. and it starts at 10 a.m. RSVP at www.hfotusa.org/monthervil.

For more information about Homes For Our Troops, visit www.hfotusa.org. For more information about the event or to get involved, contact Mell Barbosa at mbarbosa@hfotusa.org or 774-218-2194. You can also help HFOT by donating on its website.

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Taylor Wells is a relatively recently hired news reporter for the Osprey Observer, having been with the paper only since October 8, 2018. Aside from writing articles, he helps edit and upload them to the Osprey Observer site, and is always available to help other staff members in his spare time. He graduated from Saint Leo University with a bachelor’s degree in professional writing and lives in Valrico.