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Indiana soldier who lost legs in Afghanistan is returning home

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press
Friday, April 19, 2013 - 5:21 pm

ANDERSON — A central Indiana soldier who lost both his legs in a bombing in Afghanistan is ready to return home after a year-and-a-half long hospital stay, even as relatives scramble to find the money to retrofit a bathroom to meet his needs.

Army Infantryman Tim Senkowski, 30, is scheduled to leave the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., hospital Monday with relatives to return to Anderson. Senkowski lost both his legs in October 2011 when an improvised explosive device exploded while he was serving in Afghanistan.

The Herald Bulletin reported that the veterans organization The Path Home has committed to building a specially designed home near the adjacent town of Edgewood to accommodate Senkowski, his wife and their two children. Senkowski's wife, Erica, has disabilities of her own stemming from rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

That project is dependent on donations and so far enough funding has been received for the land purchase. Construction of the home has yet to begin, but the family is hopeful it will be completed by year's end.

Until their house is completed, the family will be staying with Senkowski's mother and stepfather.

In the interim, Senkowski and his family will be staying with Senkowski's mother and stepfather, Tamra and JR Rigdon.

"We live in our garage to take care of them," said Tamra Rigdon.

In order to accommodate Senkowski's new needs, the Rigdons' small Anderson home requires a bathroom that is handicapped-accessible.

That project was in the works until this week when Tamra Rigdon learned that the funding for the bathroom addition fell through, leaving her without any good options for the bathroom before her son arrives home.

"He's got to crawl into it and he can't take a shower in there," said Tamra of the existing bathroom.

She's reaching out to the community, asking for monetary or material donations to help get the $7,000 bathroom project finished.

"We've got the labor. We've got the contractors to do it," Rigdon said. "I'm so beyond stressed, it's unreal."

She said the situation is complicated by income constraints that make day-to-day living a challenge.

Senkowski won't begin receiving retirement pay for 90 days and Tamra Rigdon lost her income after quitting her job to care for him.

Donations can be made to a PNC bank account set up for Senkowski.

Jay Ricker, founder and president of Anderson-based Ricker Oil Co., has already raised about $20,000 for Senkowski's new home and is about to issue a challenge for another $10,000.

He noted that Senkowski suffered his injuries in defense of those at home.

"I can't think of anything that we donated to in years that is more important than this type of donation that touches your heart," Ricker said.