TEMECULA (CBSLA.com) — Tuesday marks the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and, for one former soldier, that date holds a special meaning in his heart and in his home.
Corporal Juan Dominguez had wanted to enlist in the military since he was five years old, but he became even more determined after seeing the towers go down.
The Temecula resident enlisted and was deployed to Afghanistan in September 2010.
One month later, Dominguez his life would change forever.
“We didn’t even see it, hear it — nothing…It was all plastic and wood, the bomb. I just remembered my ears, high-pitched ringing, black everywhere…feeling like everyone took a baseball bat to my stomach,” Dominguez said.
Dominguez and his unit were hit by a bomb that left him severely injured.
“My head bounced up, and I was able to see my legs, and in what bad shape they were. I thought, Wow, I’m never going to walk again,” the corporal said.
Now a triple amputee, Dominguez has one arm. He said that hasn’t stopped him from living the kind of life that he wants.
“I can either deal with it and be upset and unhappy for the rest of my life and still be this way, or I can be happy and still be this way. I think a positive attitude helped me recover,” Dominguez said.
“I talk to my combat buddies, that’s the best therapy, and my wife to let her know what I’m going through,” the veteran said.
The recovery process has been a test on his mental and physical state.
Dominguez said it’s a challenge getting around his house with a wheelchair.
“I can’t get to the cabinet unless I lock myself in…it’s a challenge…this kitchen isn’t built for me,” he said.
After viewing CBS’s coverage of the Stephen Siller Tunnel To Towers Run a businessman generously donated nearly $500,000 to the Tunnel To Towers Foundation. The organization helps build homes and gives them to injured veterans across the country.
This time the donor requested the home be built near Southern California. And, Dominguez was told that he would get the keys.
The veteran will not receive his keys until Sept. 11 but CBS2 News was given access to show Dominguez his furnished home for the first time.
His new “smart home,” run by an iPad, is equipped with special technology to assist him in living an independent life.
“It’s like surreal. I just can’t believe good things are happening,” said Dominguez, who recently played onstage with actor Gary Sinise’s band.
The soldier, who considers himself lucky in so many ways, wants to help other wounded soldiers.
The Tunnel to Towers Foundation currently has 14 homes under construction across the country. The Gary Sinise Foundation has been an integral part of building these homes.
Tune in to CBS2 and KCAL9 Tuesday when Sinise hands Corporal Dominguez the keys to his new home.