Veteran getting second chance at Columbia County home

Iraq War veteran Army Sgt. First Class Sean Gittens is surrounded by his daughters Shawna Gittens, 10, (clockwise from lower left), Sherae Bramwell, 17, Monique Bramwell, 20, and his wife Sharon Gittens. Seonna Gittens, 16, was not present.



Work on a new home for a paralyzed Army veteran and his family is expected to get under way soon, more than six months after a previous effort was blocked by an Evans property owners association.

Homes for Our Troops, a national organization that builds specially adapted houses for severely injured veterans, announced Tuesday that a Build Brigade is scheduled for Jan. 27-28 to begin construction on the home for Sean Gittens. It will be located at 5208 N. Tubman Road, off Washington Road, in Appling.

“It’s the ceremonial kickoff for the project,” Jennifer Fiorentino, the public relations and marketing manager for Homes for Our Troops, said of the Build Brigade.

The event will start with words from the Gittens family, organization leaders, past home recipients and veterans. Then, volunteers will erect the first walls.

“The goal for the remainder of the weekend is for the home to be secured and a weather-tight shell put up,” Fiorentino said.

Gittens wife, Sharon, said she’s optimistic about the build considering it’s the second time the organization has tried to give the family a home.

Construction of the first planned home was set to start in June near the Knob Hill subdivision house the Gittenses currently rent. But the property owners association issued a cease-and-desist order, contending that the organization never got final approval and there were concerns the home would reduce property values.

“I just have confidence that everything is going to be OK this time around,” Sharon Gittens said. “They have already started on the foundation.”

Gittens, a former sergeant 1st class, is partially paralyzed from brain injuries he suffered while deployed overseas. He is wheelchair-bound and can’t get around the family’s current two-story home. He also can’t use the shower or tub.

“That’s not an uncommon story with any of our veterans,” Fiorentino said. “To be able to go through this process and in the end, hand over to those families and veterans (a new home) and a whole new world of opportunities open up to them.”

The 2,700-square-foot home will be specially adapted to include “really very incredible features” like an open floor plan, roll-in shower, lift for the tub and roll-under counter space in the kitchen.

“I’m looking forward to that,” Sharon Gittens said of the bathroom upgrades.

The home will be given to the Gittenses for free.

The house will be built with volunteer labor, donated money and materials.

Skilled laborers wishing to volunteer can register by visiting Also on the site is a list of received and needed materials.




Sat, 11/18/2017 - 00:24

Winter wonderland comes to Augusta

Fri, 11/17/2017 - 23:44

Rants and raves