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Supporting our soldiers

11:11 PM, Oct 31, 2012   |    comments
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ALPHARETTA, Ga. -- Two Georgia veterans say it started out just like any other day. But while out on missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, they both were severely injured by IEDs.

Now, a foundation started after September 11th, and another one led by a Hollywood star, are working together to give the metro-Atlanta soldiers hope and independence.

"I got hurt in 2010. October 25," explained Corporal Todd Love, US Marines, Retired, about his first deployment in Afghanistan.

"Fortunately, I don't remember anything so I don't have to live it over and over again."

But retired Sergeant First Class, US Army, Michael Schlitz, Retired, remembers everything.

"It's one of those things you replay in your head all of the time," Schlitz explained.

"I always tell people there's really only two ways you find IEDs. You find it, disarm it and keep moving. Or it finds you."

That day it found them in Iraq. The 35-year-old was the only one from his humvee to survive, but he was badly hurt.

"I was just face down on the ground burning alive," Schlitz said. "I just thought that was it. Then I heard the guys screaming they were coming for me."

Today, he has burns over 85% of his body, lost both arms and is legally blind.

Love learned the extent of his injuries back in the United States while in intensive care with family by his side.

"When I went to put my hand there, all I met was the hospital bed and I was like 'wow'. I said it out loud. I looked to my dad and said, 'It's that high?' And he's like yeah."

The 22-year-old lost both legs and an arm.

They have different injuries and different memories, but these soldiers from Georgia find themselves facing similar challenges.

That's where The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, inspired by 9-11, and The Gary Sinise Foundation come in. Love and Schlitz will receive custom-built, smart technology homes because of their partnership through Building for America's Bravest.

"We ask two questions when we go to a wounded vet and say we want to build you a home," explained Chris Kuban, from the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation.

"Number one, we ask, where do you want to live the rest of your life and number two, now you know your location, what do you want your house to look like?"

Love, who is originally from Acworth, wants to live in Douglasville, while Schlitz dreams of living in Columbus.

Saturday, November 3, actor Gary Sinise's band, The Lt. Dan Band, will perform at Verizon Wireless Ampitheatre in Alpharetta to raise money for the homes, which can be as much as half a million dollars.

"It's really going to give me a whole new fresh start," Love said.

"I'm not taking this for granted. It's going to change my life," Schlitz said.

Humbled by this enormous gift, they're also both committed to positively impacting other people's lives.

"I do have the privilege of changing people's lives, even if it's just a small way, changing their perspective on their lives," Love said.

"I want to be an advocate for veterans not only for the guys who are wounded but those still in the fight," Schlitz explained.

If you would like to support The Tunnel to Towers Foundation and The Gary Sinise Foundation in their effort to build custom homes for Todd Love and Michael Schlitz in Douglasville and Columbus, the benefit concert is Saturday, November 3.

Gary Sinise's The Lt. Dan Ban performs Saturday night at the Verizon Wireless Ampitheatre in Alpharetta. Tickets range in price from $39.50-$59.50 and can be purchased through Ticketmaster. $150 VIP tickets are also available.

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