A piece of land in Issaquah is nothing more than dirt and mud at the moment, but in about nine months it will be home to an American hero.
“I can’t believe I get to live here,” Retired Army Major Edward “Flip” Klein said.
He watched on Tuesday, as construction crews laid smoothed the slope and laid the groundwork for his new smart home. A foundation called Tunnel to Towers created a program called Building for America’s Bravest, and raised money to build 200 smart homes for Klein and other critically-injured veterans.
The homes are customized to each veteran’s needs. In Klein’s case, he is interested in a security system and other features, such as adjustable height countertops, wide doors and self-closing doors.
Klein’s home is Tunnel to Towers’ first smart home build in Washington.
“I fell in love with the Pacific Northwest when I was stationed at Fort Lewis,” Klein said.
The 36-year-old was based at Lewis-McChord in 2011 before being deployed to Afghanistan. About four years ago, there was an explosion.
“I was operating with one of my platoons, and I stepped on a dismounted IED,” Klein said, explaining he lost both of his legs above the knees, his right arm, and three fingers from his left hand. “It's hard to wrap your head around this is the new normal, and this is how you do things. I spend a lot of energy just living.”
In another twist, he lost many of his belongings in a house fire in Maryland. Klein says the smart home signifies a fresh start.
“I think that by getting in a house that's designed for me, that will simplify my life in that way. All it will do is open up more time and energy for me to conquer the rest of the world,” Klein said.
He will not have to do it alone – Klein and his fiancé get married in October 2018, exactly six years after the explosion took his limbs but not his excitement for life.
Klein’s first order when he gets the keys to his new smart home in about a year: “Sit on that deck, look out at the trees and just enjoy where I am.”
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