New home, warm welcome for wounded vet

Nonprofit helps young Army veteran, wife move into Washougal-area house

Elsie Martin, 4, of Vancouver, drew a flower on a board that will be part of the new home for Alex and Kim Hussey. Martin's father, Zack, is an engineering manager at MacKay Sposito, a Vancouver firm that has donated engineering services for two Homes For Our Troops houses.

Patriot Guard Riders from Seattle, Longview and North Bend, Washington, as well as Portland and Rainier, Oregon, recently drove to Washougal High School, to participate in a procession honoring Army Specialist Alex Hussey — a wounded veteran who will become a homeowner in the Washougal area, courtesy of Homes For Our Troops.

The procession on May 20 also included Camas-Washougal Fire Department Engine 43, and vehicles from the Washougal Police Department and Clark County Sheriff’s Office.

Amanda Smith, a Patriot Guard Rider from Kalama, Washington, said it was a privilege to take part in the community kickoff.

“This is giving someone who gave so much, independence and accessibility in a home,” Smith said, before the ceremony.

Hussey, an infantryman with the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment (4th Brigade), 82nd Airborne Division, was on patrol in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, in 2012 — just two weeks before the end of his tour — when an improvised explosive device detonated near him. He lost both legs and his left hand and sustained a traumatic brain injury as a result of the blast.

A home that is being built for Hussey and his wife, Kim, will be located near Washougal River Road, outside the city limits of Washougal, in Clark County. It will feature widened doorways for wheelchair access, a roll-in shower and kitchen amenities that include pull-down shelving and lowered counter tops.

Since Alex was injured, he and Kim, both 25, have lived in hospitals, rehab centers and most recently his parents’ home in Milwaukie, Oregon.

“Although the best has been his parents’ home, we are ready to have a home with no stairs and a bathroom on the first floor,” Kim said. “An accessible home will help make Alex more independent and less confined.”

Bill Ivey, executive director of Homes For Our Troops, thanked the more than 50 people who attended the ceremony Saturday, including Vietnam veterans.

“Our country did not do right by you when you came home,” he said. “And the quiet professionalism you displayed and your solemn promise to never let it happen again, is the reason we are properly welcoming home our kids today from this war.”

Ivey said what the nonprofit Homes For Our Troops does is not charity.

“We see ourselves as a vehicle for the American people to repay a debt we owe these men and women who have been so badly injured defending our freedom and independence down range in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said.

Alex wants to help other veterans and volunteer at an animal shelter.

After the ceremony, he said he was thankful for the more than 40 people who showed up.

Kim was grateful to meet other veterans who are current or future recipients of houses from Homes For Our Troops.

“It was pretty great to see everyone and celebrate together,” she said.

For information about Homes For Our Troops, call 508-823-3300, email the community outreach department at coc@hfotusa.org or visit www.hfotusa.org/Hussey.

A video of the procession that welcomed Army Specialist Alexander Hussey and his wife, Kim, to Washougal High School, can be viewed at www.facebook.com/Camas-Washougal-Post-Record-242390949113644.