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Organization provides a home for wounded Weare veteran

Union Leader correspondent

May 07. 2014 4:09PM
Staff Sgt. Matthew DeWitt and his fianc Catrina are seen atop Mt. Washington. Homes for Our Troops is building a specially adapted house in Weare for DeWitt, who was injured in Iraq in 2003. (COURTESY)

WEARE — Army Staff Sgt. Matthew DeWitt will be rebuilding his life in a new home with the support of Homes for our Troops.

DeWitt lost both arms at the elbow, damaged his eardrums and required skin grafts to his face, legs and arms after an attack in Khalidiyah, Iraq, in July 2003.

Construction on a specially adapted house for DeWitt and his family is scheduled to begin later this year.

“What Homes for our Troops and its supporters is doing is amazing,” DeWitt said. “We’re so grateful that we’ll have a home built around my needs.”

Having a house designed to make it easier for him to do day-to-day things will help ease some of the stress and frustration that comes from having a severe disability, DeWitt said.

He still enjoys cycling, mountain biking and hunting and is training to compete on the Paralympic cycling team. Spending time with his family is most important to DeWitt and he’s looking forward having a specially-adapted home where he can live independently with his fiancé Catrina and his two children.

The ceremonial groundbreaking for the home is tentatively set for June 28, when the community can come out and meet the family. As the project progresses the public will be invited to attend a volunteer day at the site to help lay down sod, plant trees and do other landscaping projects.

Homes for Our Troops is committed to building specially adapted homes for service men and women nationwide who have returned home with life-altering injuries since 9/11, at no cost to the veterans. The organization has built 165 specially adapted homes nationwide and currently has about 40 veterans on its active project list.

The average cost on an adaptive home is $430,000.

“We don’t see this home as a charity,” said Timothy P. McHale, president and CEO of Homes for Our Troops. “We see this as a moral obligation to care for those like SSG DeWitt who have sacrificed so much to preserve our freedom and independence.”

DeWitt’s home was funded through a partnership with The New Hampshire Liquor Commission, Fabrizia Spirits and Southern Wine & Spirits of New England.

Phil Mastroianni has been involved with veterans’ issues since founding Fabrizia Spirit about five years ago. Around that time his friend returned from Iraq and Mastroianni witnessed first-hand the difficulties a returning veteran faces. It made him more appreciative of the sacrifices others were making, he said.

“Even before we sold out first bottle of Fabrizia we knew it was important that we incorporated doing something for others into our business,” Mastroianni said. “This campaign gives us and our customers a chance to help out an organization that is doing incredibly meaningful work, helping veterans who have sacrificed so much for this country.”

During the past four years, Fabrizia Spirits’ Home for our Troops campaign has raised over $13,000, including $5,080 last year for a veteran’s home in Rhode Island. The company expects to raise more than $7,500 this year for DeWitt.

The project takes on new meaning this year because it will be helping a New Hampshire resident, Mastroianni said. It’s also his first opportunity to help a veteran who has children and he’s excited to make the family’s new home a reality.

“We just want to knock it out of the park and raise as much money for him as we can,” Mastroianni said.

Throughout the month of May, Salem-based Fabrizia Spirits is donating $5 to Homes for Our Troops for every 750 ml bottle of Fabrizia Limoncello or Fabrizia Blood Orange sold at any New Hampshire Liquor & Wine Outlet.

The company donates $2.50 for every 375 ml bottle sold.

The state liquor commission allowed Fabrizia Spirits the flexibility and support to make the campaign a success, Mastroianni said, even providing floor space to stack cases and get greater visibility.

“The New Hampshire Liquor Commission is honored to help facilitate partnerships that help lead to better lives for our returning veterans who have sacrificed so much,” said NHLC Chairman Joseph W. Mollica. “Fabrizia Spirits, together with Southern Wine & Spirits, is really making a meaningful commitment to our veterans and we certainly hope consumers consider supporting such an important initiative.”

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