Carrington House Welcomes Holly Katke Home
As a Combat Medic Corpsman, U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Holly Katke provided lifesaving medical care for her fellow soldiers. During a mission with Navy SEALS in Iraq eight years ago this spring, Holly was shot in the head by an enemy sniper. That injury resulted in a loss of mobility in Holly’s right arm, hand, and leg. What she didn’t lose, however, was her will to survive the trauma and not give up on her dreams.
Two years ago, Holly earned her bachelor’s degree in health sciences from Trident University in Long Beach, CA. She then did an internship in Florida, studying coral reefs and water quality, subjects she says she hopes to continue researching, along with environmental health issues, in grad school. And she did all of this with physical obstacles that include being legally blind.
Now the Carrington Charitable Foundation’s signature program Carrington House is helping Holly, a Veteran of 14 years of military service and a Purple Heart recipient, put down roots in a renovated home that will make living day-to-day with these challenges a lot easier. She is the first woman Vet CCF has had the honor of selecting to receive a home.
The one-story pre-built house in Gilbert, AZ, will have new flat exterior walkways for smoother access, whether Holly is using a cane or wheelchair, plus new interior hardwood floors and tile. The updated kitchen will be compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act standards, with stove control knobs and handles up front, instead of at the back of the appliance.
Rebuilding the home for Holly is part of CCF’s ongoing dedication to improving quality of life for Veterans, says Michael Barrett, Carrington Security Company Director and head of Veterans Affairs initiatives. CCF has donated more than 20 new and renovated homes to Veterans. Holly’s Carrington House home is expected to be completed and ready for move-in by early 2019.
“I’m a combat-wounded Veteran myself,” says Barrett. “CCF is committed to the Vet community and their families. We want to present them with a home that alleviates any burdens that come after service. A home is the biggest expense any family can have. We can mitigate that and make their quality of life improve immediately.”
Holly says she has learned how to one-hand simple tasks many of us take for granted. She can put her daughter’s hair in a bun for ballet class and has learned to cook one-handed. Holly is active with the Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge, which focuses on education, rehabilitation, research, and innovation in treatments of post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury. In addition to the physical limitations due to her injury, Holly also deals with the “invisible” effects.
“Being injured, I don’t feel ‘whole,’” Holly says via email. “Much of my memory and many physical capabilities are gone. I need to re-learn things all over again and get training and therapy to function day-to-day. I need to stop and think about my next steps in life on a daily basis.
“Moving into a fully ADA-compliant home will allow me to function much more efficiently and become more independent, as well as help me in raising my pre-teenage daughter. With continued training, and knowing that I have an ADA home, I feel confident I can do better.”
Holly says CCF has been “a lifesaver for my daughter and me. The generosity and how they make you feel like part of the Carrington family is truly remarkable. We now have a new family to share our life with.”
Michael Barrett reminds us all that there are thousands of Veterans just like Holly across the nation who need our love and support. If you have the means or opportunity to be part of CCF, please do so. “She’s our first female combat-wounded Veteran we’ve become friends with and will support,” he says. “There are women in every branch of service, serving on the front lines. We’re always going to do our best to find them and help them.”