Veteran gets new smart home customized to accommodate his disabilities

By Japhanie Gray - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - A San Antonio quadriplegic Army veteran is now resting in a new customized home after he was selected by the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation to have a mortgage-free smart home built.

The foundation, along with several supporters in law enforcement and the fire department, revealed the home to Travis Worrell on Sunday afternoon in patriotic style as they paraded him to his property, held a presentation and gave him the tour.

“I was just blown away,” said Worrell. “I couldn’t imagine what it would look like. Is it going to look like this, or is there going to be enough room for everything, and this ended up just looking insane. It is very nice.”

Worrell served as a combat medic in 2008 and was deployed to Afghanistan in 2011.

“I was there months before I was injured in May of 2012,” Worrell said.

His injuries resulted in him being paralyzed from the neck down.

“We were in a firefight and a rocket grenade came in and landed 4 or 5 feet behind me and got me with shrapnel in the back,” Worrell said. “Most of my injuries were shrapnel-related and I have a fracture in my spinal cord.”

Since then, life has been difficult for him living in a standard home.

“I have to have ramps,” Worrell said. “There are doorknobs on every door, so it's kind of difficult to open. I can’t cook, which is a downer, because I loved to cook, but now I get to show off my cooking skills. All the doors are (a) tight fit, so I am always banging into stuff.”

Worrell said he never imagined being awarded the new home.

“I was pretty thrilled, because I put in an application a year prior and then I didn’t hear anything back, so I thought ‘OK, maybe I’ll just have to figure this stuff out on my own.’ Then I got a call and they were just like, ‘You are accepted in the program,’ and I was like, ‘What do you mean? Like what do we do here?’ She was like ‘Start looking for land,’ and I was like, 'OK.’”

He said the process has been very smooth.

“We started looking for land, and we found the perfect spot that's not too far away from the city but is also peaceful,” Worrell said. “It's cool that they give you a chance to find where you want to be. I could have gone anywhere I wanted to be, as long as I could find a spot they were going to work with me.”

He said they also helped with items to go inside the home.

“It was super quick, but it was more of just picking furniture and paints for a house that I have never seen,” said Worrell. “I'm colorblind, so seeing how good everything is fitting in here is super awesome.”

With great scenery and advanced technology inside the home, Worrell said it's perfect.

“I am usually a tech-savvy guy, but I will definitely have to get used to these gadgets,” Worrell said. “I will take a couple of hours just messing with stuff and just poking and tapping and touching.”

Many of the features in Worrell’s new home, including his heating, ventilation and air conditioning and security systems, are controlled by a tablet. He has a customized stovetop that can be lowered enough for him to cook. The home was also outfitted with a large shower and customized toilet and sink that he can use without assistance or struggle.

“The ease of access is going to cut minutes and minutes and minutes off and give me more time to focus on other things,” said Worrell. “I can’t wait to cook. I’m excited to cook spaghetti or tacos or something. It's going to be nice to be able to not have to worry about this.”

Worrell said now the plan is to go to school and focus on things he has always been interested in. He also said once his wife gets out of the Air Force, he hopes to travel the world.

“It means the world,” Worrell said. “It means so much, being able to have just a little more independence. It is always the little things that I count on and look at. I couldn’t be in a better city. It really is awesome. If I was in another city, who knows?"

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