A concert in Fayetteville on Friday night will raise money to help two veterans in North Carolina who were severely wounded in explosions overseas.
The concert by Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band is a fundraiser for the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation. The foundation's "Building for America's Bravest" program builds specially adapted homes for veterans who suffered catastrophic injuries.
Friday's concert is dedicated to helping build news homes for Tom McRae and John Masson. McRae was a Staff Sgt. in the Marines. His home will be built in Pender County. Masson was a Master Sgt. (Green Beret) Special Forces medic. His home will be built on a site he and his wife chose in Southern Pines.
Masson lost both legs and most of his left arm in Afghanistan when he stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED) and it blew up.
After two nearly two years in rehabilitation returned to Cumberland County, where he and his family live in a handicapped accessible apartment, but there are still daily frustrations.
"It's handicap accessible but not wheelchair accessible," Masson said. "So everything's pretty much up high. I have to reach for it, get on my nubs, and some things are even out of reach."
Those difficulties are just some of the reasons the Tunnel to Towers Foundation builds homes for veterans such as Masson and McRae. The foundation adapts home plans for the wounded veterans so that doors are large enough for wheelchairs and so there are ramps at exterior doors – making it possible to enter and exit without hassle. Kitchen counters are built lower and upper cabinets descend to be in reach from a wheelchair.
"You can roll in showers with your wheelchair. The toilets that they have, the seat come up because there are sensors," Masson explained.
Those features are part of an overall "smart home" design that includes many adaptable elements, some of which can be controlled from a computer tablet.
Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band performs concerts around the country to benefit other veterans who receive assistance from the Tunnel to Towers foundation.
"It truly, truly helps with timing and financing," Masson said. "In the end we don't have a mortgage. They're giving us a house.
More information about the concert can be found at The Lt. Dan Band website. Tickets will also be available in person at Festival Park on Friday.
Brandon is a North Carolina native and UNC alum who lives in Fayetteville, and covers Cumberland County and the Sandhills. Returning to North Carolina to work as a journalist is a dream come true for Brandon.More>>