Five years ago this month, Capt. Patrick Horan took a bullet to his head during a night operation in Baghdad, Iraq.
"Pat was injured and we weren't sure he would make it," his wife Patty Horan said Tuesday. Surgeons removed half of his skull and the left side of his brain.
"We didn't know if he would wake up or walk," Patty Horan said.
Tuesday morning Capt. Horan stood beside his wife and gazed over the front yard of their new McLean home. The yard brimmed with family, friends and a army of volunteers who have spent the last seven months modifying a home on Old Dominion Road to create a safe environment for him to continue to rebuild his body and his life.
"We are amazed by his recovery and the outpouring of the community," Patty Horan said facing neighbors and TV cameras. "He can speak now and that is miraculous. And he can walk."
Patrick Horan said when he saw the house, "I said wow, it's incredible. It's going to be nice. I just say thank you to you guys. We appreciate it."
"With so many wounded warriors coming home, this program has never been more important," said Desiree Miller of Sears Holdings. She said the program has raised $16 million from customer donations across the country.
John White, vice-president of Rebuilding Together who partners with Sears, said volunteers from Montgomery, Arlington, Fairfax Counties and Falls Church have worked to modify the home since January.
Heroes at Home has renovated more than 1,300 homes for veterans across the country, he said.
Led by project director John Lowe of Gilday Renovations, the team installed an elevator in the two-story home. The team expanded a small bathroom to accommodate a wheelchair and that contains a roll-in shower, grab bars and a raised toilet. The team also installed railings on the stairway and a gate at the top, exchanged door handles for levers and removed and levelled all door sills.
Patrick Horan grew up in Springfield. His father Richard, who attended yesterday's ceremony, is a retired Fairfax County judge. One of his brothers is Robert Horan, formerly Fairfax county's chief prosecutor.
His sister-in-law is McLean resident and WUSA-TV reporter Peggy Fox who is married to his brother Tom Horan. Fox won an Emmy for her coverage of Capt. Horan's recovery from his brain injury.
Peggy Fox explained that Patty Horan has been staying with her family while the house was under renovation. Capt. Horan is at a U.S. Army rehabilitation center in Charlottesville, she said.
Patrick Horan has been in rehabilitation centers all over the country. The reason the family settled in McLean was because his family was close by, Patty Horan said.
Patrick Horan had his right optic nerve severed. He has problems understanding language, reading and writing, his wife said. "This house gives us a completely safe environment for him," she said after the ceremony.
"This house is a huge symbol that we've made it... that we've weathered the storm," she said.
The family never got a welcome home because her husband returned filled with tubes, she said. "It is a turning point and it's kind of exciting to see what comes next." Then she and her husband walked up the walk and into their new address.
Bob Brink, the Virginia state delegate who represents the district where the Horans now live, spoke for many when he turned to them Tuesday and said, "Welcome Home."