It's "home sweet home" for one of Hamilton County's most well-known soldiers. Andrew Smith and his wife Tori are home for good after a chaotic year and a half. Smith lost his legs in March of 2012 while serving in Afghanistan. Since losing his legs, Andrew has spent nearly every day at Walter Reed Nation Military Medical Center near Washington DC. Since then, Tori and Andrew have been overwhelmed with places they had to be and things they had to do. But now, all they have is time.
"Since March 13th, 2012 until 2 days ago I was at Walter Reed. That was our first everything. We were married in December 2011, two months later I was injured, and then the hospital has been our first home," said Andrew. Since then, Andrew and Tori have never been able to enjoy their new home, except for a few weekend visits here and there.
"The house was built in July and we've been able to come here a few weekends since then but to be here and know that we won't have to go back to DC, that we'll be able to start living here and setting our stuff up, making it our home, it feels really good," said Andrew.
"This like the complete opposite of Washington, D.C. and the city life, so we are just like giddy. We love it," said Andrew's wife, Tori. What Tori didn't love was her wake-up call early Thursday morning, until she remembered where she was. "Normally you'd be annoyed if someone wakes you up with blowing leaves, but to know that it's Andrew outside that's really cool, and to know that he's out there by himself just doing yard work, I'm just thrilled," said Tori.
And when it comes to family...
"Now that we're here we're able to think about it more, but we're going to settle in first," said Andrew. "It's able to be a conversation now. He's been my baby for the past year or so," said Tori.
The Smith's home was built in 7 days by the Steps 2 Hope program last July. The Smiths could've been home a week ago, but because of the government shutdown, their paperwork was delayed.
Since Andrew is still an active service member, he'll have to visit Huntsville about twice a year for accountability purposes.
Andrew and Tori have since taken it upon themselves to help other injured service members. The couple started a gift card campaign called Honoring the Sacrifice. Anyone who wants to donate a gift card can stop by any area Walgreen's. A drop box will be set up at the front counter until Veterans Day on November 11th. You can also visit www.HonoringTheSacrifice.org
to make a monetary donation. A group of people from Chattanooga will then be traveling to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to give the cards to service members.
By Natalie Jenereski