Meet #TeamJason: A local wounded soldier picked for second Steps2Hope home build
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -
Army Sgt. Jason Smith planned to serve his country for his entire career, but unfortunately that came to an end sooner than he expected.
Channel 3 introduces you to Jason Smith and how he's about to start on his new journey in life.
"Everyone's aware but no one really thinks it's going to happen to them," Jason Smith said, "And that's where I was, I thought I was untouchable. I wasn't."
Smith joined the Army in 2009, following in the footsteps of both of his parents.
On July 25, 2012 he was serving his country in Afghanistan when he stepped on an IED (improvised explosive device) and lost both legs.
"I remember doing a back flip, landing on my chest and all you could see was dust." Smith said, "I looked down at my hands and my fingers are all mangled."
Jason spent the next 18 months recovering at a hospital in San Antonio, Texas. What he learned, was that he needed to overcome more than just his physical injuries.
"I had ballooned to 190 lbs and I was like, I'm done with this," Smith said, "I was a really fit guy before and I just put my legs on and didn't take them off."
As Jason works to find his new normal, the non-profit Steps2Hope will work on giving Jason one less thing to worry about.
In the next few weeks, the group plans to reveal details about the project and how the community can help. "You got questions you know what are you going to do for a career, what are you going to be doing in 20 years, well we don't ever want you to worry about is where am I going to live.">
A gift that's hard for an Army veteran like Jason to receive.
"It's not owed to me, so anyone that would want to help my family, I mean it's amazing. A community getting together to build a house for something like that, it's just awesome.">
After building Andrew and Tori Smith's home last year, Steps2Hope didn't plan on ever building another house.
But hearing Jason's story called for a change in plans.
"Losing the legs is the first thing people see when they meet them, "oh my goodness you lost your legs." That's really a very small part of the challenge that they faced," said Steps2Hope Executive Director Mark Wilson, "Because both of them looked at me and said, "All I ever wanted to do was to be a soldier."
"Army was simple, leading was simple and then this happened. I guess it was God throwing me a curve ball," Smith said, "But it's been the best thing to ever happen to me because then I met my fiance, you know, we're expecting a child so had I not been injured I would not met her."
Jason met his fiance Lauren just after Christmas last year.
Their first child is due in November.
To learn more about the Steps2Hope project, and how you can get involved with #TeamJason and his new journey,click here.