Waldemar Alameda, 40, served in the U.S. Army with distinction in multiple tours of Iraq, Kosovo, Bosnia and Afghanistan. In 2007, after 17 years of service to his country, he became permanently disabled by an improvised explosive device (IED) explosion he encountered on the road about two miles from his destination, Camp Speicher, in Tikrit, Iraq. When the device blew, his modified Humvee shielded him from the shrapnel, but not the blast.
The difficult world Alameda returned to was one many vets like him face back home, complicated by severe injuries, financial hardships and mounting bills. It is estimated that more than 4.3 million veterans have a combined family income of less than $20,000, making it difficult, if not impossible, to pay for the modifications needed to make an existing home wheel-chair-friendly, or to purchase a new home built to universal design standards.
Mr. Alameda suffers from severe leg and back pain, and while he can walk short distances with a cane or walker, he typically has to use a wheel chair to get around. He also suffers from post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury and tends to forgets things. After becoming disabled, Alameda moved his wife, Wanda, his son Waldemar Jr (12) and his daughter, Maria Del Mar (11) to Tampa so he could get help at the James A. Haley VA Medical Center for these injuries.
It was here that Alameda’s counselor from the Veterans Administration helped him to fill out and submit an application to an organization called Rebuilding Together. While the organization is focused primarily on providing home repair services to people who might not otherwise be able to afford them, Waldemar was chosen to receive a brand-new, green home at no cost through a partnership with the NextGen Home Experience, Sears Holdings’ Heroes at Home program and the Rebuilding Together affiliate in Tampa Bay.
In September of 2010, Waldemar was informed that he’d been chosen as the recipient of this home, which he then had a chance to preview at the 2011 International Builders Show in Orlando. The home was on display at the show to highlight its green building technologies and systems, which include solar panels on the roof, a natural gas tankless water heater and extensive insulation.