By Tim Cherry, Fort Belvoir EagleDecember 9, 2011
FORT BELVOIR, Va. (Dec. 9, 2011) -- Fort Belvoir brought healing into the homes of Woodlawn Village Nov. 30 as the garrison unveiled two 3,000 square-foot single-family residences for soldiers during the Initial Development Period Completion and Wounded Warrior Concept Homes Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony.
The housing supports the increasing number of wounded service members returning to active duty by providing universal accessibility features that far exceed law requirements, officials said at the ceremony.
"On behalf of the Clark organization it is an honor to present these homes to military families who are sacrificing to protect our freedoms," said Casey Nolan, Clark Reality Capital project director.
The accessible residences, which are named the Freedom and Patriot houses, serve individuals with numerous conditions including paralysis, blindness, loss of limbs and post-traumatic stress.
The homes were designed by the architecture company Michael Graves & Associates to ensure the security, privacy and proper healing of wounded warrior families.
Each home has three bedrooms, sliding interior doors, mobile base cabinets, adjustable height sinks, entry-door intercom systems and window and door sensors.
One of the bedrooms can also serve as a therapy room as it has a digital camera and flat panel displays to connect to home automation and healthcare systems.
The accessibility features make the homes very easy to navigate.
"We wanted to make a difference," said Michael Graves, founding principal and lead designer.
Graves, who has lived with paralysis for nearly a decade, said he wanted the wounded warrior's homes to make any person want to live in them.
"By law we're bound to meet minimal requirements," Graves said of the accessibility obligations companies have to meet with building designs, "but I like the maximum requirements."
The garrison and Clark Reality plan to build approximately 20 more accessible homes in Woodlawn Village.
The event also celebrated the garrison and Clark Realty Capital's Residential Communities Initiative, a public-private partnership to develop, rehabilitate, and construct 2,106 homes on 576 acres at Fort Belvoir for active duty service members and their families.
The RCI program is a nation-wide project comprised of 44 installations and more than 85,000 homes. That equates to 98 percent of the Army's family housing inventory in the U.S.
According to Nolan, the goal of the project when it started eight years ago was to improve quality of life on post, which had some neighborhoods more than 40 percent vacant back in 2003.
Nolan said the initiative modernized the neighborhoods and developed "more than 100 new and improved amenities" such as community gardens in the villages and Belvoir's Town Center on 12th Street.
According to Nolan, Belvoir's total occupancy rate is now 99 percent.
"Everywhere you look, you can see the innovation and the dedication providing world class communities and fantastic amenities to our families," said Col. John Strycula, Fort Belvoir Garrison commander.
Improving the quality of life for families is a very important mission to the Army.
"When families sleep peacefully at night, the loved ones that are deployed to far away lands can also have the peace of mind knowing that all is well on the home front," said Ivan Bolden, Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management chief of public private partnerships.
Bolden is very appreciative of all the people who helped improve Belvoir's housing facilities, which he said has received approximately 30 awards in areas such as design, construction and historic preservation.
"The housing communities that we build don't fight terrorism but they provide a safe haven and support for those heroes that do," Bolden said.
Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region and the Military District of Washington Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Williams perhaps summed up the proceedings best.
Williams described the eight-year partnership between the Army and Clark Reality as a continuous reaffirmation of trust between service members and the people they protect.
To Williams the homes symbolize that the military and the private sector understands the needs of service members and their families.
"We are proud," Williams said, "to stand watch of this great nation."