MCLEAN, Va. (WUSA) - When 30 plus volunteers with shears and shovels get to work, it's pretty impressive. They're from Sears' Heroes at Home program and the non-profit rebuilding together which joined forces to renovate the newly purchased McLean home of Patty and Captain Pat Horan, who is the brother-in-law of WUSA Reporter Peggy Fox.
"It's just a huge day of celebration, we're so glad you're here," exclaimed Patty Horan, Pat's wife.
Five years ago this month, Pat was shot in the head while on duty in Baghdad. Those scary days are still vivid for the Horan family.
Richard Horan, Pat's father: "He had so many tubes sticking in him. He was just inert. I felt pretty helpless."
"We didn't know if he could speak, if he could walk. It was catastrophic. And, in the beginning, it felt like there was little to no hope. Right?" Patty looked up and asked her husband who hesitated and then replied with a smile, "That's what they told me," drawing laughs from the crowd who came to watch the ceremony.
Pat has made a tremendous amount of progress over the years, thanks to his determination and hundreds of medical professionals. But the bullet, which hit the left side of his brain, destroyed his language center and left him with difficulty speaking and reading, weakness on one side, vision impairment and epilepsy.
He finally retired from the Army in April, 2012, and bought a home in McLean, but there were safety issues... like the stairs. However, they knew they could take advantage of a gift from Sears they were given during their appearance on the now defunct Bonnie Hunt Show.
Sears, working with the non-profits, installed an elevator and a safe bathroom with nothing to fall over.
"I got really excited because we got a really nice bathroom. It's going to be really big so I can walk around and and I'm not going to hurt myself," said Pat.
"There were also problems outside. Off the deck, there was a too-steep ramp and tripping hazards. So the Rebuilding Together volunteers ripped the problems out and built a second deck that easy to maneuver.
"In a case like this, Pat and Patty have sacrificed so much. We're trying to do our part. We're trying to make his home safe for him so he can continue to heal and be part of the community. It's a great way we can give back to him," said Susan Hawfield, Executive Director of Rebuilding Together of Montgomery County (where Pat and Patty recently lived.)
After five years of living out of suitcases, and moving from hospital to rehab centers, Pat and Patty Horan are finally home.
"We never got a welcome home. The welcome home was Pat laying with tubes coming out of him in ICU. So this is, after five years, our welcome home. We love Virginia, we're from here. We're so glad to be back and to start our new life."
Both Pat and Patty want to make sure people don't forget that there is still a war going on which continues to send home more and more injured servicemen and women. They hope the community will continue it's important work supporting wounded veterans.