Jason Smith was working at a welding shop in Ohio when he decided to enlist in the Army in 2009 so he could get out of his small town and see the world.
Two improvised explosive devices set by enemy combatants in Afghanistan changed the course of his life two years later.
Thanks to Chase Bank, the retired U.S. Army Specialist, his wife Trizer and 15-month-old daughter Imani will be able to call Blaine home and not have to worry about making mortgage payments while living off Trizer’s job income as a program coordinator at Living Well Disability Services and Jason’s injury benefits.
Additionally, AT&T is donating $20,000 to cover three years of financial mentorship and emotional counseling.
All this was coordinated by the non-profit Military Warriors Support Foundation
According to Dave Lieske, the Blaine home was the 552nd given away through Homes 4 Wounded Heroes program since itstarted seven years ago.
“It’s life-changing,” Jason said.
“It was a dream come true,” Trizer added.
When Jason shared his story June 26 at the Anoka County Veterans Memorial Park, , he broke out in a sweat. He is unable to work because of bone spurs in his foot, and loss of mobility in his shoulders, neck and back. But the general anxiety disorder and post traumatic stress disorders have as much of an effect on him.
His memory comes and goes. He cannot remember the date his 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Army Division convoy was struck by two IEDs. He has short-term memory loss during a casual conversation, but can remember important discussions if he really focuses.
Trizer remembers the early days of their relationship when Jason would have a lot of nightmares and flashbacks while doctors at Fort Carson, Colorado were trying to find the right medication for him.
Jason was honorably discharged from the Army Nov. 26, 2012. Four months later, Jason and Trizer tied the knot.
They lived for a short time in Ohio before deciding to move back to the Twin Cities in order to be closer to Veterans Affairs medical services and near Trizer’s family.
A friend told them about Homes 4 Wounded Heroes and they saw that a home in Blaine was available. Chase would provide the home for free. AT&T was covering the mentorship expenses.
They were about to lease a home in Maple Grove when they found out they would have a free place to stay for as long as they wanted.
“The words ‘thank you’ are important, but what’s more important is the actions that we take,” said Rep. Tim Sanders, R-Blaine.
Tom Ryan believes this support for Jason, Trizer and their daughter Imani should not stop. That is why the Blaine mayor will make sure the Blaine Beyond the Yellow Ribbon committee will not forget this new Blaine family in their time of need.
“As a wounded Vietnam veteran, I can understand how long it takes to truly come home,” said Sgt. John Rice VFW Commander Gary Exley before he presented Jason and Trizer with a U.S. flag that had flown over a base in Fallujah, Iraq.
DFL Sen. Alice Johnson and her husband Richard Jefferson are soon moving from Spring Lake Park to a Blaine home a block away from the Smiths. Richard was wounded while serving during the Korean War.
“Welcome home. I look forward to living very close to you,” Johnson said.
Eric Hagen is at firstname.lastname@example.org