Army Spec. Hank Loutzenhiser was preparing to go to war. The infantry soldier was training hard and ready to serve on the front lines.
Then, during a training exercise in Louisiana, Hank was thrown from a humvee and into a ravine. The vehicle rolled over on top of him. Hank suffered a broken femur and pelvis. Much of the lower half of his body was crushed. Doctors removed muscles from his legs and repaired extensive nerve damage.
After three months as an inpatient, and multiple surgeries, Hank still suffers from the nerve damage. His right foot is now deformed and his legs do not respond or move correctly. He walks with a permanent limp.
As doctors worked to repair his body, his wife Kayla rushed to be by his side. She stayed at a nearby hotel and returned to the hospital each day to be with him. When he finally became an outpatient, the pair lived in the single room together. The young couple said though they were simply thankful to be together, the limited living arrangement became tiring.
Operation Homefront gave the young couple a place to be together where they can function as a family and prepare for an uncertain future.
Now, Hank and Kayla live at the Operation Homefront Village in San Antonio. There, Hank is close to the hospital where he continues to receive care. The couple said they enjoy being near other families who are experiencing the same processes they are as Hank heads to the medical retirement board.
"We have opportunities to talk to people who have been through the different stages," he said. "The process is lengthy and hard to understand."
The financial help the couple receives at the village is also giving them the opportunity to build a savings and prepare for life outside the military - a future they never envisioned.
"This has been a blessing," he said. "This whole situation [the injury] just kind of happens and you don't expect it. Operation Homefront has given us a good opportunity to get ready for whatever is next."