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, Inc, Tepper Electric, Irsay Plumbing, MBL Recycling, Creative Window Design, Adorn Design Group, Truffles, Sherwin Williams, James Martin Associates , Keith Clayton Furniture, Inc and GM Builders and many others listed below 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
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.
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
Imagine 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 facilties 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