Join with your community to build
an accessible home for a Wounded Warrior Family
The story of a heroic soldier and his loving family
In 2003 at age 20, Army Reservist, Jay Briseno, was shot in the back of his head at point-blank range in Baghdad. His spinal cord was shattered
and subsequent cardiac arrests led to extensive brain damage. While Jay survived, he sacrificed his ability to walk, talk, see or eat and is now totally dependent upon his parents, Joe and Eva. They take care of everything,
from bowel and bladder care to bathing to dressing to administration of medicines and intravenous feedings. They constantly monitor him as he suffers seizures and requires frequent maintenance of his breathing tube.
This Wounded Warrior Family lives in Prince William County in a multi-level home. Before they brought Jay home, a non-profit organization modified their basement to meet Jay’s needs. Joe and Eva soon realized that caring for Jay in the basement left him too isolated from the rest of the family. There was little natural light and it was difficult to monitor Jay’s condition when they were upstairs fixing meals or handling other household responsibilities. Jay seemed to fare better with frequent touch and voice interactions with his parents. Eva was torn between taking care of things that needed to be handled in other areas of the house and being near enough to interact with Jay and monitor his condition.
Joe and Eva decided to move Jay upstairs into their dining room. Now,
he spends his days in the sun-filled main level of the house. His parents can go about their daily routines while Jay listens to his favorite music and television shows. Though Jay cannot speak, they can tell he is happier now and Eva is much more at peace. However, this is not an ideal situation. While the dining room conversion brought Jay back into the heart of the home, the hallways and openings are not accessible and it is difficult to move Jay from room to room in his specialized wheelchair. Since Joe and Eva’s bedroom is not on the same level as Jay, they take turns sleeping on the couch in the adjacent living room in case he requires attention in the middle of the night.
According to one of Jay’s physicians, most patients in his condition could not live at home. Joe and Eva cannot imagine leaving the intense care needs of their son to anyone else. They have been by his side 24 hours a day, 7 days a week since he was brought back from Iraq and plan to care for Jay in their home as long as possible.
Jay laid down his ability to live independently on a battlefield in Iraq – a warrior’s sacrifice. At that moment, his parents’ lives were also changed forever. Their own plans and dreams for their only son turned into the reality of a lifetime of care giving. They have forfeited their jobs, their income, and drained their retirement savings to care for their hero, Jay.