Jared Allen's Homes for Wounded Warriors rebuilds vets' houses

By Bill Bradley, contributing editor

Jared Allen, the Minnesota Vikings' five-time Pro Bowl defensive end, has been an impressive player on the field. But he may be impressing more people off the field with his work with military veterans.

Allen has created the Homes for Wounded Warriors foundation, which retrofits homes of disabled veterans after they return from service. He said his commitment to such a project is because his roots run deep in the military.

"I was raised with tremendous amount of respect for our men and women in the military," Allen told NFL Media. "I think those are our true heroes.

"My grandfather served 23 years in the U.S. Marine Corps. My uncle just retired from the Air Force. I had other uncles who were in (Vietnam) ... and my little brother is currently in the U.S. Marine Corps. My older brother was Air Guard."

After visiting troops overseas in 2009, Allen said he had to do something to say thanks to soldiers after they returned home. It gave him the idea to start Homes for Wounded Warriors. The foundation works with disabled veterans like Colin Faust, a retired Marine sergeant who served in Afghanistan.

Faust survived amputation above the knee on his right leg and a broken pelvis after he stepped on an explosive device.

"Every single little task of living has changed and I had to adapt and learn how to do stuff in a new way." Faust said. "And that obviously affects where you live. You need handicap accessibility."

Faust was exactly the type of soldier that Allen wanted to help. The Marine owns one of five homes Allen's foundation is remodeling this year.

"My American Dream starts with a functional home. Everybody wants a wife, kid, dog (and) picket fence, right? But you got to have a functional home to support that," Allen said. "When our men and women come home, I think if anybody deserves a little slice of the American dream, it's them."

However, Faust's home will be the first one the foundation will build from the ground up. It's part of Homes for Wounded Warriors' goal to build 10 homes a year.

"Getting the opportunity to design a house, it’s really cool for us," Allen said. "And I know he's really excited about it."

Faust said he is "just kinda blown away" by the project. It helps that he is a Vikings fan.

"It’s going to be my own little piece of heaven," Faust said. "And it’s just another step to move on in my rehab process and I’ll have somewhere I can feel safe and comfortable in for the rest of my life."