"To care for him who shall have borne the battle..."      President  Abraham Lincoln 



Thank you for visiting our program.  Designing for Veterans is a nonprofit charitable organization that provides professional interior design, architectural, engineering and landscape design services including furnishings and construction to serverely disabled veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. We provide this at no cost to the veteran or their family.  Our designs are customized to meet the specific needs of the veteran. You can learn more about our missions through this website.  Each project has a code name: for example Mission Recovery is our current project. As you continue your visit, you will learn about Marine Sgt Daniel Tsutsumi and how Designing for Veterans is aiding and assisting in his recovery through our therapeutic design approach. 

Mission Recovery  -  Meet Marine Sergeant Daniel Tsutsumi

                       Sgt Dan at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago with Dr. Chen.      Dan working hard on his therapy

For his stellar service and courage, Dan is our latest recipient of the Designing for Veterans pro bono interior design service.  We have provided professional interior designs, architectural and landscaping plans and  constructed a new addition to his family's home. The unique studio style room offers Sgt Dan independence and an environment to help him recover. The designs include a Lutron Whole Home system to facilitate Dan's needs.  Donated by Lutron Electronics and installed by Premiere Systems, Daniel will be able to open and close his doors, drapes, TV and lighting as a coordinated system via an iPad.  The interior design provides a therapy approach to developing his motor skills in his arms, hands and fingers.  Lutron is one of many contributors that has made our mission possible to help Sgt Dan recover from this paralyzed state.  Others include the Home Depot Foundation, Sleep Number, Kohler, HBF, Ragsdale, IncTepper Electric, Rich Irsay Plumbing, MBL Recycling, Creative Window Design, Adorn Design GroupTruffles, Sherwin Williams, James Martin Associates , Keith Clayton Furniture, Inc and GM Builders/General Contractors Dean and Tony Malicki and many others listed on our donate page  (see for the full list). 



Daniel served in the United States Marine Corps for eight years; four were active duty with two years in Iraq.  He was first deployed to Iraq aboard the USS Duluth in 2004.  Prior to his time served in Iraq Dan’s battle group was diverted to Sri Lanka in December 2004 in response to the tsunami to  provide humanitarian aid to the survivors.  In January 2006, Dan was deployed to Al Karmah, Iraq for seven months. It was during that deployment that eleven Marines from his battalion were killed; including five close friends from his company.   

Dan was honorably discharged  from active duty in October 2007 and from Individual Ready Reserve in October 2011.  He achieved the rank of E5 Sergeant in four years and has been awarded over ten medals and ribbons for his service. 
Dan returned home following his service without the visible wounds of war but with the unseen disability of PTSD that many combat veterans face.   It was in June 2012 when Dan suffered a traumatic C5 cervical spine injury in a freak accident that has left him in a quadriplegic condition.  He is waging the biggest battle of his young life as he fights to recover and walk again at the Willow Springs Next Steps program.  

He attended Northern Illinois University with a major in journalism and worked on campus in the VA office.  He has dreams of becoming a journalist college and his recovery. 

Mission Recovery - The Construction Process

Construction started as shown below in Feb 2013 by General Contractor - GM Builders: Dean and Tony Malicki. Neither snow, sleet or storm stopped these guys from carrying forward the mission for Sgt Dan.

Foundation for extention of existing den is excavated and footings poured.  In the second photo the old den is demolished and    the third shows the new framing with Tyvek installed. The final shot is a look at the interior.  The large opening for the windows and doors provide the natural ambiance that Sgt Dan loved so much about his favorite place in his parent's home. Architectural plans were donated by Thomas Buckley Architect & Associates. 



                         All interior plumbing work and materials was generously donated by Rich Irsay Plumbing. Go Rich! 

Mission Recovery Accomplished  Veteran's Day November 11, 2013

Sgt Dan (center) and his parents, Barb and Wayne Tsutsumi with the Designing for Veterans Team; Lt Colonel USAF Stephen Bush (ret.) Director of Development, Paul Ramoie Founding Member and Design Assitant, Carol Way Cisco, Allied ASID - LEED AP ID + C, Founder and President of Designing for Veterans.  All photography for Mission Recovery was donated by www.cg3photo.com

Mission Recovery - The Unveiling

gine surviving two tours in Iraq, returning home with no visible wounds of war, only to find yourself shortly thereafter confined to a wheelchair, living in your parent’s dining room in a hospital bed and showering in a temporary plywood shower in their garage. This has been the quality of life for 27-year-old Marine Sgt. Daniel Tsutsumi, an Iraq veteran living in Arlington Heights, Illinois, who awoke from a freak accident he does not remember to find he had sustained a cervical spine injury that left him in a quadriplegic state. 

Enter Designing for Veterans who decided to make it their mission to change this veteran’s life for the better.  The firm operates as a nonprofit organization providing pro bono interior design, architectural, engineering and landscape services to aid and assist wounded and disabled veterans. 


                   "The entire premise of the work we do is to design an environment that will aid in the recovery
                   of our veterans and not be a constant reminder of their disability. It is a therapeutic approach,” 
                   says Carol Cisco, Allied ASID and Founder of Designing for Veterans. “Interior design can and
                   does have an impact on that recovery. Every design choice – every color, texture, spatial
                   arrangement, every detail employed whether for function, aesthetics or psychological benefit
                   has a therapeutic purpose and value. The environments we build are intended to assist in the
                   healing process, whether the individual is dealing with PTSD or a physical disability. Even the
                   process of construction itself instills hope for an independent future, and providing a quality
                   environment recognizes their sacrifice and service.”



This view of Sgt Dan's studio style living quarters custom designed to meet his specific needs. This is not just an ordinary queen bed. Donated by Sleep Number/Select Comfort this bed performs many of the options as that of a hospital bed but goes even further with additional comfort features. The studio utilizes universal design principles to facilitate the custom requirements of Sgt Dan and serves the aesthetic of the space by not being a constant reminder of his disability. Drapery fabrication was donated by Gale Puccinelli of Creative Window Design and the drapery hardware from Mark Thiergart of Brimar Drapery Hardware. Norbar fabrics donated the lining for the drapes. The sliding barn door to the bath was fabricated by Steve Dimaggio's crew at Christian Brothers Contractors.    Joe Caminiti and C.A.I.Designs supported this mission by donating their facilities at the Arlington Design Center for a fundraiser. 

One of the key features to the studio is the iPad operating system that opens and closes the cellular privacy shades (donated by Lutron and installed by Premiere Systems) and the lights, fan, and thermostat. Dan has complete control of this environment via his iPad.

In order to feel as normal and possible, Designing for Veterans provided a seating area for Sgt Dan to entertain his friends without making them feel like they were in a hospital.  The interior carpentry  was fully volunteer by the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters directed by Vince Sticca and crew.  And the Chicago IBEW Local 134 headed up by Dominic Dire and his crew of six others volunteered their service with the main power upgrades and service.


Reclaimed barn wood, donation arranged by John Miller of Champaign, Illinois, provides the perfect accent wall with a hint of the aromatic cedar to create that "log cabin in the woods" feeling to the interior environment. Personal military memorabilia accessories the studio.


Universal design creates an ADA compliant space while not looking like it has been designed for a handicap person. The custom cabinetry to make this vision a reality was built by Keith Clayton Furniture.  Keith's contribution went above and beyond the call of duty to ensure all cabinet work (including the closet featured below) would meet Sgt Dan's specific needs in every detail.  Also specified is therapy massage showering system that aides in Daniel's  recovery.  The design premise fostered here is that quality interior design creates a sense of worth and value.        


Details are important. Hafele of the Americas donated the hardware and lighting for the custom cabinetry in the bathroom and closet. Keith Clayton Furniture, Inc  brought the cabinetry designs into reality and to high quality standards. Closet design by Carol Way Cisco of Designing for Veterans and Denise Butchko of Butchko and Company.

Healing our veterans does not stop with the interior environment.  Thanks to Kristi Robinson and Heidi Sibert of
James Martin and Associates, a therapy garden was planned and executed.  Home Depot's Team Depot of Palatine provided the labour and materials to execute those plans and designs.  Shown below is a ramp to the new deck (donated by Home Depot and construction assisted by Stephen Vondrak of Hank's Handyman Services) that does not look like a handicap ramp; a major part of the psychology of design for handicapped individuals.  Landscape lighting was donated and installed by Nick Miller of Lightscapes and boulders by Kurt Markl of Aspen Valley.

                                                                                     Mission Recovery photography generously donated by www.cg3photo.com.

News - Daily Herald - A Home Fit for a Hero 


Click on either image to see a video of Sgt Dan coming into his new studio for the first time.

Mission Possible 
- Another Veteran Project Completed

 This Mission Possible home renovation project for Army Sgt Cameron Crouch of Mahomet, Illinois   was completed in March 2012.   Take a look at the completion photos below and see what Cameron had to say.

The completed renovations for Sgt Crouch's master bedroom and bath at the end of March 2012.  The platform style bed was custom designed to fit the specific needs of Cameron and was built by Keith Clayton Furniture, Inc.

       Details, details, details are what makes the design work and function.  Floating bed side cabinet displays  photos of Cameron and family.


The painting above the bed was customized  specific for Dan's project.  The bed features under-drawer storage. All linen and window treatments were donated along with the pendant lighting and installation.      

Custom cabinetry built by Keith Clayton Furniture, Inc including the Corian integral sink and counter top.  Faucets donated by Delta.

                      "For the first time since my injury I got a full night's sleep without pain. 
              And I can now turn a full three-hundred and sixty degrees next to my bed."
Army Sgt Cameron Crouch


This was the mission of the interior design students of the ASID Student Chapter at the Illinois Institute of Art- Chicago.  For a year  the  Mission  Possible  Team,  code  name for  Sgt Crouch’s  project,  have  been applying  the  full  design  process  for  their“client” from  programming  through  schematic  design,  design development, construction  documentation,  procurement and installation  in  addition to their regular  class work and part time jobs.  See the designs and plans on our veterans page.

At  the  end  of March  they completed the  installation of Cameron’s master bedroom and bath.  These new designs  provide  Cameron  with  greater  freedom and  mobility along with plenty of storage for his medical supplies.  Nearly a hundred industry partners from all levels joined the Mission Possible Team supplying the furnishings and materials to execute the planning.  Hafele  of  Americas  supplied  the inside  drawer boxes, LED  Lighting  and  architectural  hardware, Kravet  donated  fabric, Benjamin  Moore  the paints, Ragsdale Inc. the painting and demolition, Shaw Flooring/Luna the area rug, Delta the faucets, Corian the counter-top material, Keith Clayton Furniture Inc  the   custom  fabrication  of   the  cabinetry  and  furniture   and  Sleep Number/Select  Comfort  the  mattress  to  name  but  a  only  a  hand full.  Haworth  and  Bernhardt Design supported the mission with a silent auction to help raise funds.  Kevin Sheridan of  Sheridan Contract rallied dealers across the Midwest to join the team with generous financial donations.

The work however, does not end here. In the course of doing this  project  several of the students formed a nonprofit  organization  and  applied for 501(c)3 status  to enable  their donors  to make  their donations tax deductible.  The  end   result  was  the  formation  of  a  new  nonprofit  interior  design  organization  called Designing for Veterans.  This will enable, upon graduation of these students, for the mission to continue and provide   many   more   severely   disabled   veterans   for   the   Afghanistan  and  Iraq wars with the quality environments they so richly deserve.

Awards  ASID Student Chapter Community Service Project of the Year

In June  2012  the  Mission  Possible  Project/Designing for Veterans  and the ASID Student Chapter of the Illinois Institute of Art Chicago received two awards for their community service work from the national trade association, the American Society of Interior Designers. The  announcement  of the awards was posted on the national ASID website which you can see right here:     ASID Student Chapter Community Service and Fundraising Projects of the Year and the Outstanding ASID Student Chapter of the Year.  

                                “This project not only raised awareness for the client's cause but showed
                the value of interior design to the community. I was personally blown away by the scope
                                  and professionalism of the whole project.” – Eileen Vitelli, ASID, NEWH

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