U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class (Ret.)
Retired U.S. Army Sergeant First Class Tara Hutchinson grew up in Anchorage, Alaska and was interested in the military even as a child. Her father served as a helicopter pilot in the National Guard. Tara enjoyed an active childhood and played softball in both high school and college.
After college, Tara felt unfulfilled with her life. One day, while driving past an Army recruitment center on her way to work, she decided to stop in. Tara was shipped out to Fort Leonard Wood the following month.
Tara started her military career as a gunner but eventually worked her way up to attain the rank of Sergeant First Class. On February 14, 2006, while serving in Iraq, Tara’s truck was struck by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). Tara received third-degree burns on her left leg and also sustained a traumatic brain injury. Tara’s right leg was amputated above the knee. While rehabilitating at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, her mother stayed by her side the entire time, giving the strength and motivation to fight for her life.
Due to her brain injury, Tara experiences tremors and difficulty with her fine motor skills. A physical therapist recommended that Tara take up a hobby to help improve her dexterity. Tara, accustomed to leading and helping others through her military service, did not simply take on a hobby that would only enrich herself. She became a jewelry artist with the goal of empowering women. Each piece of hand-made jewelry created through her business, Tara Hutch Designs, is intended to make women feel confident and beautiful.
Tara’s home was not suitable for her daily life. She lives alone and is unable to rely on anyone else. Tara often got her wheelchair stuck between her cabinets and refrigerator. The showers in her bathrooms do not have a seat and most of her doorways are very narrow. Tara works from her garage, which is not climate controlled. Unfortunately, her San Antonio home gets cold in the winter and extremely hot in the summertime. An adapted smart home would make it easier to navigate through her home and would also provide a comfortable and creative work environment for her to continue crafting jewelry.