northAmerican® continues to support Our Nation’s servicemen and women every chance we get. As the Official Moving Partner of the Gary Sinise Foundation, northAmerican delivers furniture from Shubert Design Furniture that is provided by the Jim and Linda Shubert Foundation from St. Louis, Missouri to Gary Sinise Foundation smart homes throughout the United States.
Since 2014, we have made 16 deliveries, transporting nearly 100,000 pounds of furniture nearly 12,000 miles coast to coast. Our entire company continues to be humbled by the experience and feels extreme gratitude towards the heroes and families we meet through the R.I.S.E. Program. Earlier this year, we were introduced to smart home recipient Corporal Christian Brown, an inspiring war veteran who continues to serve his country as he progresses in his personal recovery process.
Corporal Christian Brown is the oldest of six children and has been a longtime resident of Munford, TN. In April of 2009, Christian enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, following in the footsteps of both his maternal and paternal grandfathers - Commander in the Navy and enlisted Marine Corps - respectively.
During boot camp, he qualified as an expert rifleman. After graduating from Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina in July 2009, he immediately reported to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, 1st Battalion – 6th regiment. While attending the School of Infantry at Camp Geiger in North Carolina, he honed his skills as a machine gunner.
In December of 2009, Christian was deployed to Marjah, Afghanistan during one of the most notable surges in OIF (Operation Iraqi Freedom) / OEF (Operation Enduring Freedom) history. He returned home safely in July of 2010. Between his first deployment and his second, Christian qualified as a shooting instructor.
In July of 2011, Christian was called back into action, this time to the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. Christian led his squad deeper into uncharted enemy territory, to the cities of Sangin and Kajaki. It was during this deployment where he endured several firefights and led 163 combat missions as a squad leader, a number unheard of as a Lance Corporal. As a result, he was meritoriously promoted to Corporal while on deployment.
On December 13, 2011 during a push to their LOA (limit of advance), Christian went to check on his junior guys. He button-hooked right out of the building, when five feet from them, he stepped on an IED (improvised explosive device). He recalls the first thing that went through his mind.
“I thought they rolled over on the IED, I thought they got hit and it blew me back. I thought, oh my God, I just lost two 18-year-old kids. No way. I gotta’ get to them. I’m sitting there rocking, my minds thinking ‘Get Up! Get Up!’”
It was then Christian realized he could not get up; he was the one who had rolled over the IED.
Christian sustained multiple traumas to both hands and arms, amputations of his right leg below the hip joint and left leg above the knee, internal injuries and blast wounds to his upper left thigh. Christian was in a drug-induced coma for almost a month. Once brought out of the coma, Christian experienced several medical setbacks, however, was released from inpatient status at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in May of 2012.
From May 2012 to present, Christian has been recovering and is involved in an intensive rehabilitation program involving occupational therapy, physical therapy, pain management, and extracurricular activities. Christian is still currently in recovery, learning to use prostheses to walk again. He enjoys hunting, fishing, target-shooting, swimming and boating.
In July 2015, the Gary Sinise Foundation broke ground for Christian’s custom specially adapted smart home in Munford, TN. Less than a year later, on April 21, 2016 The Gary Sinise Foundation hosted Christian Brown’s home dedication ceremony. The home includes iPad controlled devices such as blinds and lights, lower appliances and counters so he can cook for himself, as well as wider doorways to accommodate his wheelchair. The Gary Sinise Foundation’s R.I.S.E. program tailored his new home specifically to his every need so Christian can become self-sufficient and regain his independence. “It’s just time to get back to being my own person… It’s really exciting because I know I can live on my own and I can take care of myself, even in a wheelchair.”
Christian hopes to continue to be able to serve his country and is actively playing a role in other injured veterans’ lives. In fact, he is currently the CEO and Founder of Gunslinger Outfitters, a non-profit organization aimed at helping fellow injured veterans transition back to their life at home and find independence and happiness. Christian believes learning to overcome his injuries and become more independent played a huge role in his recovery and is important for fellow vets.
“Well, it’s what saved my life really. Once I got home, you know, it’s a lot of trial and error… Trying to figure out different ways to doing what I’ve always done. It just changed my whole mindset. My depression was gone… you know everything that I loved to do, I can still do, I just gotta’ accept that challenge of figuring it out. And that’s all these guys need, is someone to show ‘em, hey man, it’s not over. When I talk to these guys, I’ll have a better idea of how they’re feelin’, because I’ve been there. It all has a reason; we just don’t always know what it is”.
Christian isn’t stopping there. He has a long-term goal for the organization as well. Every day, 22 of our veterans take their own lives due to PTSD… Christian will not allow himself or fellow vets to be a part of this statistic.
“The way I’d like to have it, is have a place where they can come stay on my property. So when you’re having that depression they can come be with a group of guys that have been through the same thing. And they can see that they can still do the things that they love to do and not have to have someone help them with it”.
By the end of 2016, 51 specially adapted custom smart homes will be completed or underway. northAmerican is honored to play a small part in the completion of these homes across the country.
Watch the Christian Brown Home Dedication here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ul3_odjmyjA