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Police officers, firefighters, Patriot Guard Riders and veterans lined a quiet street near Four Corners on Wednesday as U.S. Army Sgt. Saul Martinez, his wife Sarah, and their two children raised an American flag outside their new home for the first time.

“We could have went anywhere in the United States, but we chose to stay here because of the awesome neighbors and the awesome friends that we’ve made here,” said Martinez, who is a Purple Heart recipient, a double amputee and the director of warrior services for the Warriors and Quiet Waters Foundation. Martinez said he had a gut feeling about Bozeman when he visited the city in 2009.

“The second I stepped into Bozeman, I knew it felt right. And since day one, everyone in this community has proven me right,” he said.

At the Warrior and Quiet Waters Foundation, Martinez helps combat veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan “find peace and hope through fly fishing,” according to a news release about Wednesday’s home dedication ceremony.

The ceremony included a musical performance from American Idol finalist Jackie “Jax” Miskanic. It also included speeches from Bozeman Mayor Chris Mehl, American Legion Post 14 Commander Len Albright, Republican Sen. Steve Daines and local sponsors. Daines did not attend the event, but a spokesman delivered his speech on his behalf.

Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin and Bozeman City Commissioner Terry Cunningham also attended.

“The point today is that we come together as a community to fulfill the promise we made to those who served our country,” Mehl said. “When you come back, we do our damndest to take care of you.”

After raising the flag, the Martinez family cut a ribbon and toured their new, mortgage-free smart home, dedicated by the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation. The national charity builds houses throughout the country for injured veterans. The houses are all tailored to individual veterans’ needs.

According to a release, the foundation has spent more than $250 million to honor and support first responders, veterans and their families.

“It’s going to be so easy to make waffles,” Martinez said as he tested out features of his new stove, which can be raised or lowered at the push of a button. Similar features located throughout the house will help Martinez reach into cabinets, cook and wash dishes, he said.

According to Andrew McClure, national community engagement coordinator for Tunnel to Towers, the houses designed for injured veterans are “not cookie-cutter homes.” The Martinez’s house is “designed specifically to make this family happy,” he said.

The house has a level foundation, an automatic front door, cabinet shelving that can be lifted or lowered, and touchscreens that control lights, thermostats and security.

The Tunnel to Towers Foundation was founded in honor of Stephen Gerard Siller, a firefighter who died responding to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11. During Wednesday’s ceremony, McClure offered Martinez a piece of steel from the World Trade Center wreckage.

Martinez said when he touched that piece of steel, he felt like his whole life came full circle. His mind flashed back to 19 years ago, when, as a sophomore in high school, the terrorist attacks on 9/11 occurred. That was the moment when he knew he would join the military, Martinez said.

He enlisted in the Army in 2006.

One year later, Martinez lost both his legs in Salman Pak, Iraq, after an explosive hit his convoy. The injury didn’t end his career in the military.

Martinez continued serving in the warrior transition unit. He helped soldiers, Marines and sailors with similar experiences transition out of the military, according to a release. Former President George W. Bush painted Martinez, who appears in Bush’s 2017 book “Portraits of Courage.”

“He healed, and now he’s healing others,” Albright said. “Saul is a great, great man, and he deserves every bit of this.”

As a veteran and the father of a veteran, Albright said Wednesday’s ceremony meant a lot to him.

“We have one of our own wounded warriors getting recognized for helping America and our freedoms,” Albright said. “The sacrifice he made is tremendous.”

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Helena Dore can be reached at or at 582-2628.

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