Question and Answer with Captain Avila

Luis Avila house in Bethesda Maryland with the Gary Sinise Foundation.

Q. How many years have you served in the Army?
A. 16 years and counting!

Q. What do you remember about the day an IED changed your life?
A. My team went out to secure a downed UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle). After we accomplished our mission, we were blown up by a 600-pound mounted IED. I wanted to make sure my soldiers were okay. When I woke up, I was in the USA.

Q. What was your prognosis immediately following your injury?
A. I suffered two strokes, two heart attacks, a cardiac arrest, amputation, traumatic brain injury, an anoxic brain injury, and more. I was in a coma for 40 days. I could not see, talk or eat, for 21/2 years. My wife calls me a miracle!

Q. What were the first few months of recovery like for you and your family?
A. It was very hard and complicated. My case was very complex and my prognosis was very bad. I suffered multiple infections and a lot of medical complications. Plus, we didn’t have a home for more than two years. I lived in the hospital, and my family lived in the Fisher House and Naval lodging.

Q. What does your recovery/therapy include now?
A. I receive therapy five days a week at Walter Reed Medical Center. I start at 0900 and work until 1600 every day. I was almost 90 percent paralyzed for nearly four years. Now I am about 60 percent paralyzed and I continue to work hard in my recovery.

Q. How did you first become familiar with the GSF R.I.S.E. program?
A. We heard about it at Walter Reed and how they were changing people’s lives. We met Gary and consider him a friend.

Q. How will the home built for you and your family help you in your recovery?
A. Our home is a dream come true! It will help me to improve my mobility, my independence, and my therapy in a safe and reliable environment. It also gives me pride to be able to do things on my own, and gives peace of mind to my family that I can safely navigate our home without supervision.

Q. How will the wood floors in your home affect your mobility?
A. I have a power chair that drives better on wood floors than on other surfaces. Thank you for providing them. They are beautiful and functional too!

Q. How has your life changed since you received your home from GSF R.I.S.E.?
A. I am finally free! I can move everywhere and anywhere with no limitations. It feels wonderful to be able to see my sons in their own rooms where I can sit and visit with them. I can help make a meal, I can take care of things, and I can do all the things I like to do. Our home is an amazing blessing and we are so grateful to everyone at the Gary Sinise Foundation and the NWFA for making it possible, both for our family, and all the other families you have touched.