VFW unveils rendering of house being built for PT veteran

Published Aug 9, 2013 at 9:09 am (Updated Aug 9, 2013 at 9:09 am)

Her voice breaking with emotion, Alexis Abraham Vitale stood under a threatening sky shortly after noon Aug. 8, in the parking lot of VFW Post 764 in Peters Township to once again thank the post members for the outpouring of donations and money to help construct a smart home so she can better care for her severely wounded husband.

An artist’s rendering of the house was unveiled at the event, along with a massive American flag mural that was painted on the side of the VFW building by artist Scott LoBaido.

Doug Vitale was 24 years old and a U.S. Marine on patrol in Afghanistan when, on Sept. 25, 2011, he detonated an improvised explosive device. He lost both legs above the knee and suffered severe head trauma. Two strokes caused additional damage.

For the past two years, Doug Vitale has undergone intensive rehabilitation in Florida. He recently retired from the U.S. Marine Corps with the rank of sergeant.

Alexis Vitale, a 2004 graduate of Peters Township High School, has constantly been by his side and with the help of family and friends, will continue to care for her husband when the smart home is completed in early 2014.

While the couple is in Peters Township for the next several weeks, numerous events are being held to raise awareness and funds for the home. The VFW post is expected to present the couple with a $100,000 check toward the $500,000 home at a concert Aug. 9 on State AE featuring the Lt. Dan Band. Actor Gary Sinise, an advocate of helping wounded veterans, leads the band. One hundred percent of the proceeds will go to help the Vitale family.

“I was blown away,” Alexis Vitale said of the flag mural and house rendering. The couple will return to Florida for additional rehabilitation, then return for good when the house is completed.

“I can’t wait to be back home and living here. I couldn’t do it without you,” she said. Alexis Vitale expressed her thanks to the members of VFW 764 Post. Her voice broke when she said, “They didn’t have this support (when they returned from war) and they turned it around so it would never happen again.”

Scott Huenefeld, post commander, said the post was extremely pleased with the flag mural that was painted in two days by LoBaido. Paint was donated by Home Depot. As for the flag and the effort by the post to raise money for the Vitales, Huenefeld called it a “work of love.”

Chris Kuban, public relations specialist for the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, said the foundation and a foundation started by Gary Sinise, has or is in the process of building 20 smart homes across the country for wounded veterans.

Home builder Jeff Thomas of JT Thomas, will build the Vitale home. He spoke of his neighbor, who had two children serve in Iraq, who volunteered to cut the Vitales grass when the house is completed.

Money and materials may be donated at www.OperationDoug.com.

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