Easy(er) living: Amputee war hero, wife gifted barrier-free Middleburg home

Marine Sgt. Rob Jones and his wife Pamela speak with WTOP's Neal Augenstein before seeing their new home. (Courtesy Amelia Augenstein)
Marine Sgt. Rob Jones and his wife Pamela Relph speak with WTOP’s Neal Augenstein in front of a church in Loudoun County, Virginia, before seeing their new home. (Courtesy Amelia Augenstein) (Courtesy Amelia Augenstein)
Marine Sgt. Rob Jones and his wife Pamela are moving into this brand new mortgage-free, barrier-free home in Middleburg, Virginia, courtesy of (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
Marine Sgt. Rob Jones and his wife Pamela are moving into this brand-new mortgage-free, barrier-free home in Middleburg, Virginia, courtesy of the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation (WTOP/Neal Augenstein) (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
A seriously injured Marine, who has accomplished miraculous physical feats while raising money for veterans' charities will be moving into a new mortgage-free, barrier-free home. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
A seriously injured Marine, who has accomplished miraculous physical feats while raising money for veterans’ charities, will be moving into a new mortgage-free, barrier-free home. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein) (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
Jones' wife Pamela plans to turn the land around the home into a vegetable and fruit farm. (Marine Sgt. Rob Jones and his wife Pamela are moving into this brand new mortgage-free, barrier-free home in Middleburg, Virginia, courtesy of (WTOP/Neal Augenstein))
Jones’ wife Pamela plans to turn the land around the home into a vegetable and fruit farm. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein) (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
Accessibility-focused features including lower door handles will make it more convenient for people in or out of wheelchairs to navigate the home. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
Accessibility-focused features, including lower door handles, will make it more convenient for people in or out of wheelchairs to navigate the home. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein) (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
After losing both legs to  a land mine in Afghanistan, Sg.t Rob Jones and his wife have lived in a small apartment. They are looking forward to the space available in their new home. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
After losing both legs to a land mine in Afghanistan, Sgt. Rob Jones and his wife have lived in a small apartment. They are looking forward to the space available in their new home. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein) (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
The stove surface raises and lowers at the touch of a finger to accommodate a chef in a wheelchair. (After losing both legs to a land mine in Afghanistan, Sgt. Rob Jones and his wife have lived in a small apartment. They are looking forward to the space available in their new home. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)) (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
Hung below counter level, the microwave oven slides out to prevent burns and spills for a user in a wheelchair. (The stove surface raises and lowers at the touch of a finger to accommodate a chef in a wheelchair. (After losing both legs to  a land mine in Afghanistan, Sg.t Rob Jones and his wife have lived in a small apartment. They are looking forward to the space available in their new home. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
Hung below counter level, the microwave oven slides out to prevent burns and spills for a user in a wheelchair. (The stove surface raises and lowers at the touch of a finger to accommodate a chef in a wheelchair.) (WTOP/Neal Augenstein) (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
With a cut-out to accommodate a wheelchair, the kitchen sink turns on with a wave of the hand near the fixture thanks to motion detectors. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
With a cutout to accommodate a wheelchair, the kitchen sink turns on with a wave of the hand near the fixture, thanks to motion detectors. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein) (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
Racks slide out of cabinets for easy accessibility. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
Racks fold out of cabinets for easy accessibility. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein) (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
Rob Jones and his wife Pamela have driven past their future home while it was under construction but never saw inside it until Thursday. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
Rob Jones and his wife Pamela have driven past their future home while it was under construction but never saw inside it until Thursday. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein) (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
Motion detectors enable light switches to turn on and doors to close when Rob Jones enters a room in his new home. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
Motion detectors enable light switches to turn on and doors to close when Rob Jones enters a room in his new home. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein) (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
The motion detectors enable the toilet seat cover to automatically raise and lower, and clean the toilet. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
The motion detectors enable the toilet seat cover to automatically raise and lower, and clean the toilet. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein) (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
After years of struggling to climb over a bathtub into a shower, this new overhead shower allows Sgt. Rob Jones to wheel directly into the shower. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein) (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
After losing his legs and raising money for veterans’ charities, Sgt. Rob Jones is looking forward to relaxing in his new home. “There’s no place like home,” said Rob’s wife, Pam. Rob agreed: “That line says to me comfort, happiness and family.” (WTOP/Neal Augenstein) (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
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Marine Sgt. Rob Jones and his wife Pamela speak with WTOP's Neal Augenstein before seeing their new home. (Courtesy Amelia Augenstein)
Marine Sgt. Rob Jones and his wife Pamela are moving into this brand new mortgage-free, barrier-free home in Middleburg, Virginia, courtesy of (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
A seriously injured Marine, who has accomplished miraculous physical feats while raising money for veterans' charities will be moving into a new mortgage-free, barrier-free home. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
Jones' wife Pamela plans to turn the land around the home into a vegetable and fruit farm. (Marine Sgt. Rob Jones and his wife Pamela are moving into this brand new mortgage-free, barrier-free home in Middleburg, Virginia, courtesy of (WTOP/Neal Augenstein))
Accessibility-focused features including lower door handles will make it more convenient for people in or out of wheelchairs to navigate the home. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
After losing both legs to  a land mine in Afghanistan, Sg.t Rob Jones and his wife have lived in a small apartment. They are looking forward to the space available in their new home. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
Hung below counter level, the microwave oven slides out to prevent burns and spills for a user in a wheelchair. (The stove surface raises and lowers at the touch of a finger to accommodate a chef in a wheelchair. (After losing both legs to  a land mine in Afghanistan, Sg.t Rob Jones and his wife have lived in a small apartment. They are looking forward to the space available in their new home. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
With a cut-out to accommodate a wheelchair, the kitchen sink turns on with a wave of the hand near the fixture thanks to motion detectors. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
Racks slide out of cabinets for easy accessibility. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
Rob Jones and his wife Pamela have driven past their future home while it was under construction but never saw inside it until Thursday. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
Motion detectors enable light switches to turn on and doors to close when Rob Jones enters a room in his new home. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
The motion detectors enable the toilet seat cover to automatically raise and lower, and clean the toilet. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)

For a U.S. Marine who lost both legs above the knee to a land mine in Afghanistan, running 31 marathons in 31 days to raise money for veterans’ charities was easier than washing his body at home.

“Every time I want to get into the shower, I have to haul myself over a shower into a bathtub,” said Sgt. Rob Jones, standing on two prosthetic legs on the hilly unpaved parking lot of a church in the hills of Loudoun County, Virginia.

“It takes a lot more effort to do anything at home, because even before you get going, you have to put your legs on, and then it takes more effort to balance,” he said, as his wife, Pamela Relph, stood nearby.

“We live in a small apartment; we’re constantly banging into each other,” Relph said.

“I’m not the tidiest of people,” she said, laughing, “so he’s constantly tripping over stuff I’ve inconveniently put someplace because we just don’t have the room.”

On Thursday, the Purple Heart recipient and his wife received the keys to a brand-new, mortgage-free, barrier-free home as a gift from the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, named after a fallen New York City firefighter who died on Sept. 11, 2001.

Andrew McClure, national community engagement coordinator for the Tunnel to Towers charity, said the smart technology and floor plan was designed specifically for Jones’ case.

“Wide doorways, and the doors open automatically and close behind him; if he needs to be in a wheelchair, he can wheel himself into the shower,” said McClure. “The counter tops raise and lower so he can cook or clean.”

With cutouts under sinks in the bathroom and kitchen, Jones can wheel himself into a comfortable position: “Water begins with just a wave; it can motion detect.”

He and Relph will turn the more than 13-acre property into a fruit and vegetable farm.

“It’ll be on a small scale, but we’re going to be growing a wide range, including tomatoes, peppers, garlic, onions — everything you can thing of,” Relph said.

“Pam’s going to be doing the daily duties, and I am going to be there to help with the big projects,” Jones said, smiling at the still unspecified “honey do”-list he expects will follow.

In their apartment, Relph was fearful of the stone slabs in front of their building, which became slick whenever it rained.

“Whenever Rob went out there when it had been raining, it was like he was walking on thin ice,” she said.

Relph expressed her relief that she and her husband are moving into their forever home. “It might not seem like that big a thing, but it’s one tiny little stress that we’re never again going to have to think about,” she said.

Both discussed the final scene of “The Wizard of Oz.”

“There’s no place like home,” Relph said.

Jones agreed: “That line says to me comfort, happiness and family.”

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