ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A New Mexico veteran severely wounded in war has faced a whole new battle back home — just trying to get around his house. Now the community is stepping in to help.
Daily life is a challenge for Army veteran Erik Schei, not to mention for his parents, who have been taking care of him 24/7 since 2005.
“We try to keep him busy,” Erik’s parents, Christine and Gordon Schei, said.
“His teeth need to be brushed, he needs to be shaved… He needs to be entertained,” his mom explained.
Erik Schei was serving in Iraq when he was hit by sniper fire and suffered a brain injury, leaving him wheelchair-bound.
“His wheelchair is a little bigger than a regular wheelchair because he is a lot taller,” Christine Schei said.
Erik’s parents say maneuvering him around their Rio Rancho house can be a struggle.
“Cooking in the kitchen, he likes to be part of it, he likes to supervise while we’re chopping and cooking, and he was always in the way because the kitchen was so small,” his mom said.
That’s where the Wounded Warrior Project comes in — the group partnered with the Jaynes Corporation to give the Scheis a home makeover.
Doug Boling is heading up the project. They’re widening the doorways, installing more accessible fixtures and fixing up areas suffering from wheelchair wear-and-tear.
It’s all part of Wounded Warrior’s mission to serve not just vets, but their families, too.
“All these caregivers, whether they’re moms, dads, husbands, wives, they have someone that they’re responsible for 24/7,” the Wounded Warrior Project’s Mary Tallouzi said.
It’s been a rough few years for the Scheis. Their second son, Devin, was also wounded in the line of duty. They also have a 17-year-old daughter, Anneka.
“It has affected her dramatically. She had to grow up a lot faster than others,” the Scheis said.
However, it has also inspired Anneka Schei to pursue a career in medicine so she can help people like her brothers.
As for Erik, he has a message for the crew crawling over every inch of his home.
“Thank you,” he said.
The Wounded Warrior Project expects to finish the Sheis’ renovations by next month.