One Home, Two Purple Hearts

One Home, Two Purple Hearts

Honoring military families for their service and sacrifice

WASHINGTON, D.C. – June 30, 2014 – (RealEstateRama) — “We’re not really used to being the recipients of service from someone else,” said U.S. veteran Todd Shaw. “We’re used to being the ones lending a hand.”

Todd and his wife Cathrine have devoted their lives to serving their country and their community. “We both come from military families,” Cathrine explained. “Todd’s family goes back a while, but mine has had someone in the armed service going all the way back to the Revolutionary War.”

Todd and Cathrine are both members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart. They are one of only two married couples in the United States with both spouses in the order. They met in the Fort Campbell, Ky. Warrior Transition Battalion as both transitioned from active duty to serving the nation as veterans in their communities. Their friendship grew over time, and they married in 2012. Their blended family includes five children ranging 12 years in age: Todd has a son named Dustin and two daughters, Brittani and Charlie. Cathrine has two daughters, Rebecca and Stephanie. Rebecca, the oldest, married last June. Continuing the family tradition, her husband is currently serving in the military.

While Todd and Cathrine are retired from active duty, they continue to serve by helping fellow wounded soldiers in Clarksville, Tenn. They help families locate and access the resources and medical care they need to live as independently as possible. They also cook meals, share stories, listen and offer advice.

Although the Shaws welcome their neighbors into their home, veterans who are disabled, including Todd, have difficulty navigating the house itself. “I fall almost once a week,” he said. “I’ve broken bones and even smashed up the kitchen countertop with one fall.” When Todd’s injuries periodically require him to have surgery, he is confined to a wheelchair. There’s no ramp to get him in and out of the house safely during recovery. His son Dustin carries visiting veterans into the house when they can’t make it up the stairs on their own.

The Shaws have worked to improve their home as they’ve been physically and financially able to, but it has been challenging. Two tornadoes hit their home within one week in 2011. They’ve repaired most of the storm damage, but they have not been able to make all the accessibility modifications needed.

“Sometimes it can be really hard because we’re both disabled, but we understand each other’s struggles,” Todd said of Cathrine. He was caught in an explosion in Iraq in April 2006. Seven of his vertebrae were broken, and three were crushed. Cathrine suffered injuries to her back, knees, wrists and ankles in an explosion in August of the same year in Afghanistan. “She’s there for me on my bad days and I take care of her on hers,” said Todd.

Military families find this same, reciprocal strength in their friendship with the Shaws. One friend decided to anonymously thank the family by nominating them to receive help in the form of repairs and accessibility modifications. Rebuilding Together Nashville will renovate the home at no cost to Todd and Cathrine, and they couldn’t be more grateful.

“Someone must have put our names in,” said Cathrine. “It was a total surprise…and a complete blessing.”

A wheelchair ramp will be built between the driveway and the front door so Todd and his friends can come and go safely. Floors throughout the home will be replaced and handrails will be added on the stairs to prevent Todd and others from falling. The kitchen will be completely refurbished so it is accessible to visitors in wheelchairs.

“This is going to help us help more wounded veterans in our home,” said Todd. “And please, support our soldiers,” he added. “Even a simple ‘thanks’ goes a long way.”

The renovation of the Shaws’ home marks the 1,500th home repaired by Rebuilding Together through Heroes at Home, a partnership with Sears. Through the Heroes at Home program, Rebuilding Together affiliates honor veterans across the country by keeping them safe and healthy on the home front. Learn how you can give back to people like Todd and Cathrine by visiting rebuildingtogether.org/help and get involved today

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