Accesible home awaits Marine in Reno Co.
Special to The Telegram
James "Matt" Amos is moving into Reno County, but he's really coming home.
As a Marine sergeant serving in Afghanistan, he lost both legs in an explosion more than two years ago.
A new fully accessible home built in southeast Reno County is awaiting Amos, recently retired from the Marine Corps and currently living in Sedgwick County.
In a ceremony Saturday, Amos and his young family will receive the key to the house. The Reno County Commission has proclaimed Saturday as James "Matt" Amos Day.
Amos and his future wife, Audrie, graduated in 1999 from Andale High School.
Amos said he "dabbled" in college out of high school, but the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the U.S. changed his direction. When the U.S. invaded Iraq, he promptly enlisted.
Amos had two deployments to Iraq and suffered injuries in an improvised explosive device blast.
On a third deployment, he went to Afghanistan in 2011.
In June 2011, an I.E.D. explosion hurled Amos into the air. He lost his right leg above the knee and his left leg below the knee. He also broke his pelvis.
"I answered the phone," said Audrie Amos, in a video on Homes for Our Troops' website.
" Are you Audrie Amos?'" the caller asked.
"I already knew something happened," Audrie Amos said. The question was: "How bad is it going to be?"
The Marine underwent repeated surgeries and extended hospitalization and physical rehabilitation.
He also applied for help from Homes for Our Troops.
"You don't really think that you're going to be in a position to need that kind of help and you don't want to ask for the help, but when you get it, it's very touching," Audrie Amos said in a voice filled with emotion.
This Massachusetts-based nonprofit organization coordinates development of homes for soldiers wounded since Sept. 11, 2001.
This is the second Homes for Our Troops home in Kansas. The first home was built in Marion County for Army Sgt. Ryan Newell.
Companies and individuals donate money, materials and labor. A federal grant of up to $64,960 can be obtained, but Homes for Our Troops ensures expenses above that amount are covered.
The home is given at "NO COST" to the veteran, Homes for Our Troops' website emphasizes.
Homes for Our Troops has well over 100 homes to its credit.
At ease at home
Matt Amos searched online for country property for a new house. The Amoses have two daughters, Lily, 7, and Clara, 4, and the couple want the girls to grow up in this area. Lily attends elementary school in Andale.
The search ended with the land on South Haven Road. Home construction began in the first quarter of this year.
Amos has prosthesis legs, but like the worker who kicks off his shoes when he arrives homes, Amos said, he likes to "kick off" his legs at home.
The new home was designed to accommodate a wheelchair. There are no steps up to the front door or down to a small patio behind the house.
Wide doorways and hallways and hardwood floors will make it easier to maneuver a wheelchair.
In the kitchen, Amos will be able to roll his chair under a kitchen countertop, instead of positioning the chair sideways to the counter. The house also has a roll-in bath shower.
Stainless steel kitchen appliances have been installed, but the house won't be furnished until the family's belongings arrive next week.
Matt Amos has a new job that will allow him to work from home, and also will involve some travel.
The Amos home sits at 25011 S. Haven Road, just north of Boundary Road. The location is roughly midway between Hutchinson and Wichita, and about a mile and a half from Cheney Lake.
There's serendipity to living in the country, points out Minta Hawkins, who with her husband lives in the house north of the Amos home: The residential address is the Sedgwick County city of Mount Hope, even though homes are in Reno County, and they have Andale phone numbers.
An unpaved South Haven Road limits traffic, and residents enjoy unobstructed views of sunrises and sunsets.
"Best sunsets in the world," said Steve Hiser, relatively new to the area and the Amoses' neighbor to the south.
The new Amos home is a demonstration of generosity, but Amos gave more, as Hiser sees it.
"Gave up two legs for our country," Hiser said.