Doug and Alexis Vitale move into Peters Township ‘smart home’
Alexis Vitale can now move her husband out of bed without the assistance of others. Organizers unveiled on Independence Day a new 3,000 square foot colonial-style ‘smart home’ at 445 Longleaf Drive where she and her husband Sgt. Doug Vitale will live after the Marine underwent a two year rehabilitation process in Florida. The smart home will allow the couple greater mobility with automated doors, adjusted height counters and a lift system from the bathroom to the bedroom. Sgt. Vitale lost both of his legs above the knee after he stepped on an explosive while patrolling in Afghanistan in September 2011. Due to blood loss, Vitale also suffered strokes on both sides of his brain, leaving him with severe mobility and cognitive impairment.
“The least we could do for this man is give him a house,” VFW Post 764 Commander Scott Huenefeld said. The McMurray VFW Post is credited with donating $170,000, one of the most significant collections toward the $500,000 home.
Scott Peterman, a 26 year-old Marine who served under squad commander Vitale, saved his life that day. He was modest in his reluctance to tell the story. “There’s not much to tell. I helped him...helped get him the care he needed after he was obviously so badly wounded.” Peterman raised the American and Marine Corps flags in the Vitales’ new front yard.
Fundraising for the Vitales’ home got off to a start last year, when the Gary Sinise Foundation held a fundraiser concert at Stage AE with the namesake philanthropist performing with his Lt. Dan Band. The smart home in Peters Township is one of 8 that severely wounded veterans have moved into around the country just this year, with the Sinise Foundation and The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation looking to complete 17 homes by the end of 2014.
“If it were not for 9/11, we would not have to build these homes,” Frank Siller, Chairman of the Siller Foundation said. Siller said his brother, a New York firefighter, died that September day running nearly two miles to the scene of the falling World Trade Center towers. “And if it were not for that day, we would not have had to send our young men and women to die to protect us. So those who ask, ‘Why is a 9/11 organization helping building these homes?’ We owe it to you and to your families.”
Siller said as he helps to complete 36 smart homes for veterans’ families, he’s never seen love like he has from Alexis Vitale. “We’ve never seen the level of commitment to their husband like this woman has. It is a true inspiration and Doug Vitale is a very lucky man.”