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Designing and Evaluating the Wounded Warrior Project

Wounded Warrior Patriot Home

Active Duty Soldiers Return, But Can’t Go Home

As of November 2013, more than 50,000 soldiers have returned home wounded from conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Returning veterans face unique and tremendous challenges, including housing that no longer meets their needs. The Wounded Warrior Home Project at Fort Belvoir is the result of efforts by the Army and Clark Realty Capital to drastically improve the quality of life for wounded warriors returning to active duty. A diverse team of stakeholders, including the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Universal Design and the Built Environment (RERC-UD), was assembled and collaborated on two new single-family homes at Fort Belvoir, VA. The project sought to move beyond accessible design and incorporate universal design features in order to provide enhanced usability for everyone.

wounded warrior patriot home living room

The RERC-UD Helps Design Homes For All

The design team built two demonstration houses (Patriot House and Freedom House) at Fort Belvoir that implemented numerous universal design features such as stepless entrances, open floor plans, home automation, adjustable sinks and cabinets, low windows, and roll-in showers. RERC-UD researchers then evaluated the Patriot House using guided tours and structured interviews with four wounded, active duty soldiers, as well as members of the design team. Post occupancy data on the Freedom Home was gathered using a detailed walkthrough and semi-structured interviews with an active duty soldier and his family living in the home at the time.

wounded warrior patriot home kitchen

The RERC-UD Helps Design Homes For All

The research indicated that the design team successfully reinvented accessible housing for wounded warriors and their families. The evaluations confirmed that the soldiers generally think very favorably of the aesthetics and universal design features in the two demonstration homes, but they also highlighted some opportunities for improvement. For example, due to a high prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries amongst returning soldiers, many soldiers recommended including additional features to enhance perceptions of safety and privacy. A detailed report of the RERC-UD findings, including an extensive review of the value engineering, will be used by members of the design team and the US Army to help refine the prototype homes for future phases of construction, which will include an additional 19 homes at Fort Belvoir.

wounded warrior patriot bathroom