EDMOND — Rusty Dunagan sat across the room and smiled like a proud father as he watched his wife, Angie, play with their three-month-old daughter, Rosalee.
Rusty Dunagan, who lost his legs and his left arm in a 2010 land mine and bomb attack in Afghanistan, makes his home in a rented house in southwest Edmond that isn’t accessible to the disabled.
The master bathroom isn’t wheelchair-accessible, the hallway doors are too small and there’s no way to get Dunagan, 33, and his wheelchair to the closet.
The Dunagans and their five children make do — it is home for now.
That is is all going to change thanks to the Gary Sinise Foundation’s R.I.S.E. program, which stands for “Restoring Independence and Supporting Empowerment.”
The Dunagans are getting a new wheelchair-accessible house in the Deer Creek School District in Oklahoma County.
Talk of the new home also puts a smile on Rusty Dunagan’s face.
“We are so honored to get it and ready to be in it,” said Dunagan, now a retired U.S. Army staff sergeant.
“It is a blessing,” Angie Dunagan said. “You don’t think about it until you are in that position.”
Doors will be wider for Dunagan’s wheelchair, the appliances will be in the right place and the cabinet shelves will move up and down in the Dunagans’ custom Smart Homes designed to increase access for wounded veterans and empower them to perform daily chores without assistance, with many operations controlled through smartphones and tablets.
Sinise’s foundation has built 27 homes. Plans are to build 14 homes in 2014, Dunagan said.
“While our foundation is working ’round the clock to help improve the lives of wounded service members who served and sacrificed and the families who care for them, it is critical to remember that it also takes the support of our local communities, like the great people of Oklahoma City, to lend their support in order to help us reach our goals to ensure these defenders are not forgotten,” said Sinise, an actor and humanitarian.
Sinise, 58, will be in Oklahoma on Monday and Tuesday to raise money to build homes for Dunagan and other wounded soldiers.
Sinise will be at a special showing of “Forrest Gump” at 7 p.m. Monday at Harkins Bricktown, and at a 5:30 p.m. Tuesday “Inspiration to Action” dinner and reception with singer John Rich and Medal of Honor winner Sammy L. Davis.
The dinner will be at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, 1700 NE 63.
Wounded Warriors Family Support has contributed funds toward building the Dunagans’ home.
“We are anxious but kind of tense,” said Rusty Dunagan.
“We are ready for the groundbreaking.”
Groundbreaking is expected to take place in early April.
Construction should take six to nine months.
How it happened
Dunagan, a native of Guthrie, said he was on combat patrol on foot Sept. 21, 2010, when his buddy stepped on a land mine with a bomb attached.
“I couldn’t stand up,” Dunagan said.
“I was missing my legs. I stayed concsious. If it had been a couple more minutes, I would have died.”
Medical help got there just in time, and he was placed in a medical-induced coma while in Germany.
“It took three to four days before he was stabilized enough to be brought to the states,” he said.
Angie was in Colorado, raising their three older children and their 3-year-old daughter Analisa, who was an infant at the time, when she got the call that changed their lives.
“My heart stopped,” Angie Dunagan said.
“I kept busy. There were sleepless nights. I was preparing for a long stay in the hospital.”
Rusty Dunagan eventually ended up at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio until March 2012 when the family moved to Edmond so they could be close to his parents, Glenda Church and Richard Dunagan, and his brother, Brent Dunagan, all of Guthrie.
The couple, now married five years, have learned a new way of living, which will be made easier once they more into their new home.
“Things just flow,” Angie Dunagan said. “We work as a team.”
If you go
•What: Special showing of “Forrest Gump”
•When: 7 p.m. Monday
•Where: Harkins Bricktown
•What: “Inspiration to Action” dinner and reception with Gary Sinise, singer John Rich and
Medal of Honor winner Sammy L. Davis
•When: 5:30 p.m. Tuesday
•Where: National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, 1700 NE 63
For tickets to the events or to donate, go to www.gary