Purple heart veteran welcomed into mortgage-free smart home

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VESTAL (WBNG) — Army Sgt. Rick Yarosh and his family were welcomed into their brand new, mortgage-free, smart home for the first time on Thursday.

In 2006, Yarosh was serving in Iraq when his military vehicle was hit with an IED.The fuel tank exploded and engulfed Yarosh in flames. He survived but suffered severe burns, lost his right leg, multiple fingers, part of his nose, and most of the function in both of his hands.

When speaking about this traumatic experience, Yarosh does not see it as a sacrifice.

“My family knows sacrifice, but me personally, I don’t think I truly know sacrifice. I’ve seen it, but I don’t know it,” Yarosh said.

Although Yarosh is modest, others still recognize and reward his bravery. The Stephen Siller Tunnels to Towers Foundation, with the help of sponsors, built Yarosh this handicap accessible home.

It’s equipped with top technology, including state of the art of security. Yarosh said his favorite part are the techy door locks.

“Right now, we don’t lock the doors in our current home and that’s because I can’t, because of keys. I have a hard time with keys,” Yarosh said.

Although anyone would argue Yarosh is the most deserving person, his humility never wavers.

“Look at me sitting in this right now that was given to me. Am I deserving of it? I have a hard time saying I’m deserving of something like this,” Yarosh.

While soaking in his new home, next to his family, Yarosh recalled tough times.

‘In the beginning there was hopeless times where I didn’t think I could live. The first time I saw my face, I was like, ‘oh my god I gotta go out in public like this?’ Then I did go out in public and everyone was staring at me. I didn’t really know if I wanted to live the rest of my life like that,” Yarosh said.

Yarosh said hope is what kept him going.

“The way I recognized that I had it was because of other people who gave it to me. I saw what they did for me, pulling me through,” Yarosh said.

To make the day even more special, Vestal’s town supervisor officially declared May 23 as Rick Yarosh Day in Vestal.

Grace Gagnon

Grace Gagnon

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