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Purple Heart Recipient Has Home Remodeled



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It was back in 2006, that Staff Sergeant Sean Johnson was injured while serving his country overseas.
Six years later, Sean finally received the much deserved, Purple Heart. Now, the veteran is receiving the home he deserves thanks to an program called Operation Opening Doors.

Coming home from a tour in Iraq is supposed to be a happy time, but it was quite the opposite for retired Staff Sergeant Sean Johnson and his wife Melissa.

Sean's wife Melissa said, "When he came back home, we noticed within the first couple of weeks, you go through this readjustment where you think it's the time change, the fatigue and that's he's in a different environment, but then you just start to notice things are wrong."

On March 25, 2006, while serving with Aberdeen's 452nd Ordinance Company in Iraq, a mortar shell exploded near him.

Sean said, "Doctors didn't know what to diagnose me with or what exactly was wrong. They just started treating all the symptoms with medications until they got to the root of the problem."

Sean was eventually diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury. With time, he's also lost sight in both his eyes.

"The left half of my right eye I can't see out of by I have vision left on the outside of my right eye," Sean said.

As you can imagine, it made it difficult for him to get around, even in the one place where you should feel the most comfortable.

Sean said, "The floors were a laminate before so they  were really slippery so you always have that chance where you can fall down and hurt yourself."

That's where Operation Opening Doors comes in. Sponsored by the Associated General Contractors of South Dakota, the program remodeled the Johnson's home. With $100,000, additions were added on to the front and back of the home, the bathroom was made handicap accessible and the bedroom bigger.
The kitchen was also remodeled, complete with all the bells and whistles.

Melissa said, "Cabinet doors that close softly so if you slam the door shut it doesn't startle him. If he forgets to close it, they'll kind of close on their own. It's got under cabinet lighting so he can see better, brighter lights on the ceiling so that increases visibility as well."

A small act of kindness, for a man who wouldn't hesitate to serve our country again.

Sean said, "You know you just gotta keep going and if they asked me to do it again, if I could, I would."

Operation Opening Doors is sponsored by the Associated General Contractors of South Dakota. An open house was held at the home from 3 to 5 o'clock Friday afternoon, a chance for Sean and Melissa to thank the community for their newly remodeled home.

An account has been set up at Plains Commerce Bank for those wishing to support this or future Operation Opening Doors projects. For more information on Operation Opening Doors contact the Associated General Contractors SD Build Chapter at 605-336-9338.

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