Josh Misiewicz Takes Us On a Tour of his Newly Renovated Home
Home on a two-week vacation from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to see friends and family, Lyons Township graduate Marine Lance Cpl. Josh Misiewicz takes the media on a tour of his newly refurbished La Grange home.
Answering questions from reporters and smiling for television cameras are some of the easier things Marine Lance Cpl. Josh Misiewicz has adjusted to since he returned home from his first tour of duty in Afghanistan.
"You get used to it, I guess," Misiewicz, a 2006 Lyons Township High School graduate, said of all the coverage.
In July 2011, Misiewicz, 23, was seriously injured in Afghanistan after stepping on a bomb while he was on patrol. He lost both legs and suffered hearing loss, and has been living at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD, while learning to walk again.
Back home since June 29 for two weeks, Misiewicz spoke with reporters on June 11, and showed off renovations at his family's home on Spring Avenue in La Grange. With the help of Sears' Heroes at Home, a program that helps rebuild the homes of military families, and Rebuilding Together, a nonprofit that provides extensive rehabilitation and modification services to those in need at no cost, the Misiewicz home has been refurbished to make life at home easier on Josh when he returns.
"It's a lot more room to be able to get around," Misiewicz said of the renovations as he showed television crews and reporters through the home. "What they've done ... it's been awesome."
Doors and entryways have been widened to allow Josh to move around the home more easily in a wheelchair and on prosthetic legs. The home's bathroom door has been widened, the shower redone to include seating and easier to use showerheads. The kitchen flooring was redesigned to become one level, counter tops were lowered and extra storage placed beneath for better access. Sears also provided the family with a new refrigerator, dishwasher, washing machine and dryer.
"It's little stuff like this that really helps," Misiewicz said. "It has helped my family tremendously."
Before a throng of reporters and cameras, Misiewicz thanked the crew of volunteers from the family's new back porch—recently enhanced with an elevator. He added that he was glad that organizations like those that helped his family were helping other families as well.
Looking Forward to Being Home for Good
Misiewicz said that he's been enjoying the two-week break from physical therapy in Bethesda. He will return to the medical center Thursday but said he hopes to be home for good by March.
Getting back to life at home is a goal that is very much on Misiewicz's mind.
"It's been a lot of hard work," the marine said of his therapy. "Every day it gets a little better and we're still working at it."
Getting out around town has been good for him too. Misiewicz said he's looking forward to more trips to Paul's Pizza and Hot Dogs in Westchester and hanging out with friends again for a night on the town.
"It's been nice to get out and chill," he said.
Misiewicz's sister Alyse, 21, will return to Walter Reed with him. They have been staying in a private two-bedroom apartment at the center. Alyse is studying to become an occupational therapist, and spending the summer at Walter Reed has given her a unique opportunity to observe his treatment, she said.
The War Comes Home for Lyons Township
It has been nearly a year since Misiewicz was injured, and his family has been through a lot during that time. Last December, when Misiewicz returned home, a crowd of supporters greeted him in front of the family’s house. Numerous benefit events have been held in the La Grange community to support him, and the family is looking forward to life settling down, his mother Nancy Misiewicz said.
"The community has been so incredibly supportive and we're so amazed at how everyone has come together," Nancy said. "We're coming up on the one-year anniversary of his injuries and it's like I can finally breathe."
Misiewicz's injuries have brought the war in Afghanistan home to the community of La Grange in a very real way and reminded residents how much is sacrificed by men and women like her son.
"He's put a face on this war," Nancy said. "It brings it home and raises awareness about the sacrifices that are made for our freedom."
Having the help of organizations like Rebuilding Together and Hero's at Home has been incredibly helpful, she said, and has improved the family's life at home.
"Navigating the V.A. (United States Department of Veterans Affairs) is very difficult," she said. "That's where their charities come in. They can get it done a lot quicker. All of [the volunteers] feel like family now."