Utah Purple Heart recipient gifted brand new house

Dec 18, 2019, 6:18 PM | Updated: 8:26 pm
(Photo Credit: Steve Griffin, Deseret News)...
(Photo Credit: Steve Griffin, Deseret News)
(Photo Credit: Steve Griffin, Deseret News)

HOOPER, UTAH – A Utah Marine injured in battle is getting an incredible Christmas gift.  He was given a new smart home built especially for him.

Sergeant Brian Johnston enrolled in the Marines shortly after 9/11 and was on his first deployment in Iraq in 2004 when he was injured in an IED explosion.  He lost both his right arm and his right leg, and had to go through more than 60 surgeries since then.

However, people who know Johnston say he doesn’t let his injuries drag down his spirit.

“I love how he said, ‘Don’t feel sorry for me.  I just had a bad day at work,’” according to Jennie Taylor, widow of Brent Taylor, who was killed in Afghanistan.

Taylor says it’s common for wounded veterans and their families to get depressed because of their injuries.  She has definitely felt the burden of caring for her family after her husband died.

She says, “I get really down and it’s easy to think, ‘Poor me.’  [Johnston’s] attitude is so inspiring to say it was just a bad day.  Shake it off and let’s face tomorrow.  I think that’s just incredible.  He’s a wonderful man.”

Taylor also says vets and their families can sometimes feel a sense of panic when they get home.

“In Brian’s case, I imagine it’s not so much financial, but, ‘How do I have a home that doesn’t even accommodate my body and my needs?’” she says.

The 2,345 square foot house has a motorized front door, along with a custom-made stove with a motorized lift.  It also has a customized shower, kitchen cabinets than can be pulled down and climate controls Johnston can operate through his iPad.

The house was a gift from the Tunnel to Towers Foundation.

Taylor says, “It’s like they’re giving a gift from America, saying, ‘We’ve got your back.  We’re grateful for your service and your sacrifice, and we want to make sure you’re comfortable.”

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