Smart Homes Help Local Vets Regain Independence

Corporal Scott Nokes will be the owner of a smart home to be constructed at 191 White Street in Howell Township, courtesy of The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, a national nonprofit organization. (Photo courtesy Howell Township)

  HOWELL – Howell Township’s population has increased by one with the addition of a new smart home to be built for a local veteran.

  Cpl. Scott Nokes will be the owner of a smart home to be constructed in Howell Township, courtesy of The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, a national nonprofit organization.

  Officials broke ground on the smart home, located at 191 White Street, on Aug. 1.

  Cpl. Scott Nokes served as a corporal and rifleman in the Marines, assigned to 1/8 Charlie Company. After two deployments to Afghanistan, Cpl. Nokes suffered serious, life-changing injuries.

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  “After his second deployment, Scott developed dysentery, which led to unresolved GI issues, sepsis and the eventual amputation of both of his legs below the knee as well as the loss of his vision,” according to the Foundation.

  The Foundation hails Nokes as a hero, not only for his service, but also for saving the lives of two individuals prior to his deployment.

  “He has twice saved someone’s life. Once as a volunteer firefighter, he once rescued a boy from a fire. Another time, he saved a fellow student while attending a ROTC camp,” stated the Foundation.

  The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation is named for Firefighter Stephen Gerard Siller, who gave his life trying to save others on September 11, 2001. In honor of his memory, the Foundation facilitates the Smart Home Program, which “builds mortgage-free smart homes for our most catastrophically injured service members.”

Photo courtesy Howell Township

  These are not just homes equipped with iPads and Alexas, but rather, homes designed specifically to meet the unique needs of each individual service member.

  The Foundation equips these smart homes with features such as automated doors and lighting, wider halls and doorways, special showers to accommodate wheelchairs, automatic door openers, cabinets, counters, and stove tops that can be raised and lowered, back-up generators, and central heating and air conditioning systems that can be controlled by tablets.

  According to Catherine Christman of the Foundation, the smart homes are built for those veterans whose injuries are severe and make every day living a struggle. 

  The Foundation outlines “catastrophic” injuries as: quadruple amputation, triple amputation, quadriplegia, paraplegia, double limb amputation with other injuries such as severe burns, blindness, and traumatic brain injury. “These homes enable our most severely injured heroes live better, more independent lives.”

  The Foundation has started construction or is in the design stage of a total of 75 smart homes in locations all over the country, and has committed to building a minimum of 200 smart homes for service members.

Corporal Scott Nokes (Photo courtesy Howell Township)

  This house at 191 White Street will help Cpl. Nokes regain his independence to continue to perform activities he enjoys, despite his injuries.

  “An avid hiker and camper he is currently working to complete his college degree majoring in history, homeland security and becoming literate in Braille and hopes to develop a career in peer mentorship,” according to the Foundation.

  Christman noted that the Foundation hopes to give Cpl. Nokes the keys to his new home by year’s end.

  “This was all done through the efforts of Kathy Cunningham and the volunteers of Tunnel to Towers Foundation – Team Shamrock. We had the pleasure of spending time with Cpl. Nokes before the ceremony and I think Pam can also attest that this couldn’t have gone to a better man,” said Councilman Thomas Russo. “There aren’t enough words to express how grateful we are for Scott, Tunnel to Towers Foundation, Team Shamrock, and all of the volunteers who give so much if their time caring for and honoring our heroes.”