Marine Lance Corporal John Curtin lost both of his legs and severely damaged his right arm one month into his deployment in Afghanistan

By Hannah Chubb
August 15, 2019 02:37 PM
Nicole Hill Gerulat

When John and Brittany Curtin got married in 2015, they never dreamed they’d be living where they are today.

The couple met at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Maryland back in 2011— Brittany was a volunteer with the Red Cross and John was in outpatient treatment for injuries he sustained while deployed in Afghanistan.

A Marine Lance Corporal, John joined the Marines at 19. He lost both of his legs and severely damaging his right arm when his foot triggered an IED one month into his deployment. He now gets around with the help of prosthetic legs or a wheelchair.

As difficult as John’s injuries were to adapt to, he and Brittany, both 29, live their lives today with incredible ease. For that, they thank two organizations: Homes For Our Troops and Wayfair, who have provided them with a specially-adapted — and fully furnished — home of their dreams, just outside of Nashville, Tennessee.

Homes For Our Troops is a non-profit organization that donates custom houses to veterans with disabilities, allowing them freedom in their homes as thanks for their service abroad. The organization teamed up with online furniture marketplace Wayfair to completely overhaul the Curtins’ home this past June, customizing it to both John’s accessibility needs and the pair’s personal style.

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“We feel so unbelievably blessed,” Brittany tells PEOPLE of the experience. “Just for our day to day, our routine has entirely changed. Because John isn’t so taxed just doing small things, he’s able to do so much more both inside and outside the house.”

“It’s been an absolutely life changing experience,” John agrees. “It’s just transformed my life completely. When Brittany and I were first living in Virginia together we lived in a little 700-square-foot apartment, and we couldn’t even pass each other in the hallway because my wheelchair took up the whole space. So the ease of living is just unreal compared to those experiences.”

Not only is the 2,800-square-foot home and surrounding property entirely complaint with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and wheelchair-accessible, but a variety of gadgets inside the home are designed to help John complete daily tasks with ease.

For example, extendable shelves in the kitchen and closets can be pulled down to be at John’s eye level, and a track chair in the backyard allows him to move around the property — which has paved and graded paths — and do yard work.

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“I actually did the weeding the other day, and Brittany was like ‘Are you weeding? I thought you hated that!’” John says. “And I was like, it’s not that I hate doing that, it’s that I couldn’t do it at the old house. I just couldn’t get around with the divots and stuff, but now there’s a space that I can.”

Joking that he might be the first person to ever be excited about getting to do the weeding, John laughs, “It’s funny. It’s the little things you miss the most.”

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Wayfair ensured that the decor in the new space would be pleasing to both John and Brittany’s personal tastes — a challenge, it turns out, as John prefers a more industrial look while Brittany describes her aesthetic as “antique farmhouse chic.”

“They did a really great job of marrying those two styles and bringing pieces that I can say with certainty we would never have thought would go together, but really touch on both of our styles,” Brittany says. “We did a Skype interview with Wayfair’s team and the designer, and they sent these really in-depth surveys for each space that they were going to be furnishing and decorating. I even sent them my Pinterest board!”

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As much as he loves the new decor, John says his favorite part of the new house is the playroom that was designed for their one-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Ashlyn.

“It’s her little zone where nothing can really bother her and she can’t get into too much trouble,” he says. “So it’s a lot easier for us to just enjoy the time with her in there.”

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Brittany agrees: “She really enjoys that space. We wake up and go play in there for a little while, and she just loves all the little knick knacks that Wayfair put in there. She basically got a whole new set of toys that she really loves.”

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The Curtins are also thrilled to have a space that can be enjoyed by all, as they love to entertain and host big dinners.

“Most of the people that we hang out with on a regular basis are friends that John acquired at the hospital that are also double amputees,” Brittany says. They also have friends with disabilities that John met through playing sled hockey — he is a defenseman for the Nashville Sled Predators, and even made the US Developmental Sled Hockey Team.

“Having a beautiful space that’s accessible to all of our friends to come and be comfortable, that’s exciting,” Brittany says. “To be able to open your home to anybody is really awesome. We feel so blessed.”