It’s been a frustrating waiting game for the family of U.S. Army veteran Chaz Allen, who lost both his legs when he stepped on an explosive device in Afghanistan in 2011.
Allen was supposed to have a special-needs home built for him in Warren County. A groundbreaking ceremony even took place more than a year ago on Jan. 28, 2013 at the home site on Crisp Springs Road with a number of local, state and military dignitaries in attendance.
But the groundbreaking ceremony has turned out to be the only activity thus far on that property.
“We stuck a bunch of fancy shovels in the ground, but since then nothing has been done,” said Chaz’s wife, Jessica Collins Allen, a 1997 Warren County High School graduate. “I think we’re working on our fifth different timeline right now, so maybe the fifth time will be the charm.”
While admitting the process has indeed been trying, Jessica is staying positive and is confident their home will be built. They are going through the nonprofit Helping A Hero foundation, which has built homes for more than 90 military veterans in 21 states. Helping A Hero is providing much of the funding for the Allens’ home, which includes buying the land on Crisp Springs Road.
“We’ve had to revise the plans because the house started out being too big and we’ve had to change builders,” said Helping A Hero founder and chairperson Meredith Iler. “I think you should see some things happening by March and they should be in by August.”
Jessica says she hopes that timeline is accurate because she would like her two daughters, ages 11 and 8, to be enrolled in the Warren County School System in the fall. She would also like her husband to live in a home that better suits his needs.
“We live in a two-story house and he has to crawl up and down the stairs,” said Jessica of their current home in Clarksville. “He can’t use his prosthetic legs right now because he’s having pretty bad back issues. He’s had so many surgeries and blood transfusions, we’ve lost count.”
Jessica said a single-story house is just one of the needs of a person who is largely wheelchair-bound. She said every sink needs to be adjusted, along with the stove and countertops. Modifications also have to be made to the shower, doorways and toilets.
“There is so much we take for granted every day,” said Jessica. “He can’t even go into our backyard from our deck because there are a few steps he would have to go down. It all needs to be zero-level entry.”
Chaz has said he thinks Warren County is going to be a great place to raise their two girls and looks forward to relocating to this area.