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Capitol Interior Products Assists Homes For Our Troops With NJ Project

When Timothy Birckhead was in high school, he was a runner and an athlete. He also felt a call to serve his country, so he enlisted in the Navy shortly after graduation in 2000.

After his first tour of duty, he knew that he wanted to make the Navy a career. But not long into his second tour, Petty Officer Second Class Birckhead began experiencing pain and weakness in his legs.

Physical therapy didn’t help and when he failed the Navy physical readiness test, he knew something was badly wrong. His deteriorating health caused him to separate from the Navy – and the job and teammates he loved – in October 2007.

The disease, eventually diagnosed as hereditary neuropathy with liability to pressure palsies (HNPP), causes weakening and atrophy of the limbs and has affected Birckhead’s ability to handle basic tasks such as caring for himself and even getting around his house on his own.

Now in a new accessible home, his wheelchair takes him anywhere he wants to go. Capitol Interior Products, a GMS company with yards in Kearny and Camden, NJ, helped make the home a reality.

An Accessible Abode

Homes For Our Troops (HFOT), a non-profit based in Taunton, MA, builds and donates homes for veterans like Birckhead – those who have suffered amputations, paralysis, traumatic brain injury and other life-altering conditions. The mortgage-free homes are intended to bring disabled vets a measure of freedom and independence so they can continue with their education, careers and families.

Since 2004, according to the HFOT website, the organization has built more than 230 homes across the country. Ninety cents of every dollar HFOT raises goes toward services for veterans. The nation has some 2,000 severely injured post-9/11 veterans living with such conditions as amputations, residual limb damage, traumatic brain injury, spinal injuries and paralysis, burns and blindness, according to Veterans Administration figures cited on the HFOT website.

The homes that HFOT builds for the vets average 2,650 square feet and cost an estimated $440,000 to build. All are completely wheelchair accessible and designed with more than 40 special adaptations, including:

  • Lowered countertops and accessible appliances as well as oven and cooking surface heights that allow for safe food preparation.
  • Roll-under design that allows wheelchairs to fit under countertops, sinks and cooktops.
  • Wider doors that allow for wheelchair access.
  • Pull-down shelving that eliminates the need for climbing or reaching and reduces the risk of falling out of a wheelchair.
  • Hardwood floors throughout the home that allow wheelchairs to be used more easily.
  • Roll-in showers that let the veteran transfer from the wheelchair to a shower surface without risking a slip on a wet floor.
  • Automatic doors that allow for hands-free entry and exit from the home.

Making A Home Happen

Building a home requires coordination among many different companies and suppliers.

Capitol Interior’s Camden yard heard about the Birckhead project through CertainTeed, a leading manufacturer of interior and exterior building products. CertainTeed, which is partnering with HFOT and donating materials for homes nationwide, reached out to Capitol Interior for assistance with material ordering, stocking and delivery.

Capitol Interior Products serves a range of commercial and residential customers from yards in Camden (near Philadelphia) and Kearny (near New York City). In addition to commercial and residential delivery and specialty product orders, Capitol Interior also stocks a wide variety of building materials including drywall, lumber, steel, insulation, jobsite tools and construction accessories.

For Birckhead’s home in Mullica Hill, NJ, Capitol Interior ordered and delivered drywall and related materials, including:

  • 68 sheets of 4 by 12 by ½-inch Regular
  • 13 sheets of 4.5 by 12 by ½-inch Regular
  • 29 sheets of 4 by 12 by ½-inch Tech MR Board
  • 10 sheets of 4 by 8 by ½-inch Diamond Backer Board
  • 45 sheets of 4 by 12 by 5/8-inch Type X

Home Sweet Accessible Home

Birckhead’s home was completed in mid-July. No longer able to stay by himself, he receives live-in care from his mother, Gloria.

His new home has level doorways – unlike his previous house that had stairs that gave him “stage fright,” he told HFOT. Automatic doors and level doorways mean he can not only move around inside the home, he can also get outdoors more often. The home also provides more space for him to watch TV and play games with his daughter, Tamyia.


About GMS

Founded in 1971, GMS operates a nationwide network of locally managed yards serving contractors, professional builders and do-it-yourself builders.

For more information, visit GMS.com.

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