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Wounded veteran and family start life in Wind Gap home built by national group

Daniel Lasko
Micaela Hood
The Lasko family raises the American flag at their new home in Wind Gap on March 18, 2023.

WIND GAP, Pa. — The sounds of sirens from the police escort could be heard from miles away as hundreds of people cheered and waved American flags to welcome amputee veteran Daniel Lasko and his family to their new home.

It's not just any house: Inside there are more than 40 special features designed to help Cpl. Lasko live more comfortably.

  • Daniel Lasko, a wounded war veteran, and his family were given the keys to their new home in Wind Gap from Homes for Our Troops, a national nonprofit that donates homes to military members
  • Lasko lost part of his left leg and sustained a brain injury during the war in Afghanistan
  • State Treasurer Stacy Garrity attended the ribbon-cutting with Lasko and his family
Daniel Lasko
Micaela Hood/LehighValleyNews.com
Veteran and amputee Daniel Lasko and his family were welcomed to their new home in Wind Gap by officials from Homes for Troops, former military members, elected officials and their new neighbors.

He uses a prosthesis to walk and lost part of his left leg and sustained a traumatic brain injury during the war in Afghanistan in 2004.

He and his wife, Jessica, and their two sons, Ben and Luke, were handed the keys to their new abode on Saturday at a special ceremony held by Homes For Our Troops, or HFOT, a national nonprofit that donated the property on Rone Drive.

    They were joined by several state and elected officials, including State Treasurer Stacy Garrity, a retired Army Reserve colonel who served three tours during the Gulf War and is the recipient of two Bronze Stars.

    The Lasko family were escorted to their new home by Bushkill and Northampton police and fire departments.

    Tears of Joy

    Lasko, an Easton Area High School alum, enlisted in the Marine Corps after high school graduation. On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, he was sworn in at a recruiting station in Harrisburg.

    While awaiting a flight with other newly sworn-in Marines to be taken to boot camp at Parris Island, S.C., he watched on a TV as footage of the first commercial airliner crashed into a World Trade Center Tower.

    All air traffic was suspended, and he was driven back to Easton. Lasko and his fellow recruits understood they would be going to war.

    On Saturday, Lasko held back tears as he told the story of his war injuries and thanked his family and former military members for referring him to the Home for Our Troops program.

    "Since retiring from the Marine Corps in 2005 with these disabilities, Jess and I lived in several types of homes trying our best to adapt and overcome by dealing with many obstacles such as small tight spaces, lots of stairs, small shower spaces, hilly yards," he said.

    "We always made best with what we had. After several falls both up and down stairs and slipping in the shower over the past years, and with my body getting older, and after recent back surgeries and spinal injections, we were recommended Home for Our Troops as a resource."

    Members of the Lehigh University RTOC

    About the home

    The lot for the home was carefully chosen for its accessibility in terms of flat and level ground, according to HFOT President Tom Landwermeyer.

    The house's more than 40 Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant adaptations include lowered countertops and roll-under access (wheelchairs fit under sinks and cooktops), widened doorways, pull-down shelving, plank floors (carpet-free enables ease for wheelchair use), automatic doors, therapy tub and walk-in shower and master closet and safe room (in the event of weather or natural disaster).

    "We will finally be in a home that is safe and accessible, Lasko said. "Some of the custom adaptation features will give me more options to move around safely, be more productive, while not relying on others.

    "I will finally be given an opportunity to give my residual leg and back a rest when needed and not push through the pain and infections that only make things more stressful and dangerous."
    Veteran Daniel Lasko

    "I will finally be given an opportunity to give my residual leg and back a rest when needed and not push through the pain and infections that only make things more stressful and dangerous.

    "I will now be able to use crutches and wheelchair with an open-floor plan, widened doorways and walk-in, wheelchair-accessible shower. With all these unique custom-features and options, it will be a lot easier physically and mentally for many, many years to come."

    Ribbon-cutting for wounded veteran Daniel Lasko

    Visits from his sister

    Still grieving over the loss of his parents, Lasko said he also looks forward to spending more time with his older sister, Lisa, who he said also will benefit from the home's signature touches.

    "There are two very special people in my life that are not physically here, but are with us in spirit," he said. "My dad, who passed away unexpectedly in 2020, and my mom, who lost her battle with cancer last year.

    "My parents right now are watching down over us with big smiles this morning," he said. "Lisa, who is a thriving quadriplegic, is an inspiration to many and now has the chance to visit her younger, wonderful, smart, good-looking brother.

    "She can also visit her sister-in-law and nephews and be in our home with no obstacles and no more barriers. No more hanging out in the driveway or garages on visits, weather permitting."

    Homes For Our Troops is a publicly funded 501(c) (3) organization that builds and donates specially adapted custom homes nationwide to severely injured post-9/11 veterans, to enable them to rebuild their lives.

    The homes are funded by donors, supporters, and corporate partners.

    'There's no way to fully repay veterans'

    Most veterans receiving HFOT homes have sustained life-altering injuries, including multiple limb amputations, partial or full paralysis, and/or severe traumatic brain injury, according to Landwermeyer.

    These homes restore some of the freedom and independence veterans sacrificed while defending America’s interests, and enable them to focus on their family, recovery and rebuilding their lives, Garrity said.

    More than 100 severely injured veterans are in the application process to get a home.

    "Homes For Our Troops is an amazing organization, recognizing the sacrifices made by injured Veterans like Dan and helping them to live independently after their military career ends," Garrity said.

    "I thank Dan for his service to our great country, and I wish him and his family many years of happiness in their new home.

    “There’s no way to fully repay Veterans for all of their sacrifices. Corporal Lasko and his family are as deserving of this home as anyone.”

    The donated home will enable Lasko and his wife — also an Easton High alum, and a Northampton County Community College graduate — and their sons to have more time to get involved with the community, in particular with dog rescue organizations.

    The home also will give Lasko the opportunity to continue his education, and afford the family time to invest in starting a business.

    A carbon-fiber prosthesis has enabled Lasko to continue his active participation in sports. He has run marathons, half-marathons, and 5k and 10k events in America and abroad.

    He also has competed in triathlons, including the grueling Escape from Alcatraz.