Natural Stone Institute Completes Two Homes with Gary Sinise Foundation
The Natural Stone Institute has provided natural stone and fabrication services for two homes with the Gary Sinise Foundation through its R.I.S.E. (Restoring Independence Supporting Empowerment) program. The Foundation’s R.I.S.E. program builds 100% mortgage-free specially adapted smart homes for severely wounded veterans and first responders.
On January 5, 2006, after a year-long tour of duty in Iraq, just six days before he was scheduled to return home, then-retired U.S. Army First Sergeant John Borders was participating in a routine convoy when his Humvee was hit by an improvised explosive device (IED), critically injuring him. He was scheduled for surgeries every other day for several months, receiving over 55 surgeries total. The extent of his injuries required him to go through limb salvage with his left leg and have his right leg amputated below the knee.
With the help of family and friends, and his own self-imposed drive to return to active duty, staff sergeant Borders stayed positive, working through sessions with his physical therapist until he regained more use of his limbs and learned to walk with a prosthetic limb. Then, he learned to run. Every time he achieved a goal, he set himself two more. After more than three years, staff sergeant Borders completed his Medical Evaluation Board and returned to active duty as a counterintelligence special agent. Borders served over 27 years in the army, 12 of which he served as a handicapable individual. He deployed five times, completing his last tour in Afghanistan with his new leg. In January 2018, he retired as a first sergeant, a title he aimed to achieve his whole career.
Today, Borders lives in Florida with his wife, Mollie (also an Army veteran), and their two children, Brittany and Xander. Post-retirement, Borders has found a new way to serve others, redefining himself as a scuba instructor. He wants to help individuals with limited mobility learn to dive and find freedom from their pain and restriction in the deep water.
Jason Church is a third-generation soldier. He moved from La Crosse, Wisconsin, to Fort Benning, Georgia, for military education, going through infantry officer basic leader course, Ranger School, and Airborne School. After graduating, Jason moved to Fort Lewis, Washington, and deployed to Afghanistan shortly after.
On August 23, 2012, Jason was out on his first deployment to Afghanistan. While conducting a routine patrol with his unit, it quickly became clear that Jason and the others were walking into an ambush and standing in a field of Improvised Explosive Devices (IED). Sensing the urgency to vacate the area, Jason attempted to knock over a wall to create an escape route; however, a loud explosion rang out, knocking Jason unconscious for a few seconds. Once waking up from the blast, Jason quickly realized that the IED had severed both of his legs below the knee. With his unit’s help and their medic, Jason was transferred to a MEDEVAC site and eventually to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Upon arriving at Walter Reed, Jason spent two and a half months in in-patient care while enduring 20 surgeries to save his legs and his life.
Today, Jason is retired from the Army and lives in Wisconsin. He attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison and graduated with his law degree. In his off time, Jason enjoys traveling, fishing, and spending time with his family.
Natural Stone Institute members have now contributed to 49 completed homes through this initiative. Companies interested in getting involved with future projects are encouraged to email firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more, and to see a list of all Natural Stone Institute members who have donated their time, products, and services to this cause, visit www.naturalstoneinstitute.org/RISE.
About the Natural Stone Institute
The Natural Stone Institute is a trade association representing every aspect of the natural stone industry. The current membership exceeds 2,000 members in over 50 nations. The association offers a wide array of technical and training resources, professional development opportunities, regulatory advocacy, and networking events. Two prominent publications—the Dimension Stone Design Manual and Building Stone Magazine—raise awareness within the natural stone industry and in the design community for best practices and uses of natural stone. Learn more at www.naturalstoneinstitute.org.