For 10 days, Sgt. Steve Wojcik and his family lived at a campground near Strum, Wis., while the crew from the “Military Makeover” TV show renovated their home in town.
Wojcik admitted he had to encourage his wife, Terri, and their daughters — Alyca, 19, Amberlee, 16, and Alyson, 13 — to resist the temptation to drive by the house to see what was going on.
“I’d say the first five days at the campground, we were sitting around the campfire, ‘I want to go see the house,’ and me talking them down,” Wojcik said. “We were told to stay off social media just for the chance that someone at the house posted a picture; they wanted our genuine reaction when we got back to the house.
“It was a roller coaster of emotions.”
When the Wojciks returned to their house on Oct. 3, there were more emotions.
“It was amazing when we left the campground to see the Legion Riders and the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association (who escorted the family back home),” said Wojcik, a veteran of the Marine Corps and Army Reserve and a Wisconsin State Patrol officer since 2008.
And seeing the hundreds of veterans, community members and fellow officers who turned out for the reveal “was more than I expected,” he said.
“The only thing we knew for sure they were going to do, ABC Supply Co. had come over and had me pick out shingles and siding,” Wojcik said. Still, seeing the new roof and siding was a “holy cow” moment, he said.
At the front door, the family spoke briefly with “Military Makeover” host Montel Williams.
“I grabbed the door handle to go in, and I could see what they had done. I said a little profanity and shut the door (in shock),” Wojcik said. “Then I remembered, we have to go in.
“Just to see the expression on my daughters’ faces, my wife’s face, so unbelievable.”
Wojcik is grateful for the relief the renovation brings to his family.
“I don’t think they stress enough the sacrifices the family and spouse make when servicemembers are deployed,” Wojcik said. “I believe at times it’s easier on the servicemember than it is on the spouse. Not to say the servicemember doesn’t miss home, but we have our brothers and sisters in arms, and we have a mission. It takes our focus off wondering what’s going on at home. The spouses don’t have that.”
Wojcik acknowledged the sacrifices his wife had to make even when he wasn’t overseas but merely deployed to Fort McCoy, a little over an hour away from Strum.
“I appreciate everything that Terri has done and the sacrifices she has made,” Wojcik said.
Wojcik, a member of American Legion Post 13 in Richland Center, was injured by an IED explosion in Iraq in 2004 while deployed as a member of the Army Reserve. He also served in the Marine Corps from 1994-98.
In announcing the renovation, “Military Makeover” noted that Wojcik “endured numerous injuries during his military career and has had operations on his shoulder and back, leaving him in a constant state of pain and numbness.”
Those surgeries include two spinal fusion procedures in 2017.
“Military Makeover” brings designers, contractors, landscapers and other home improvement professionals together to transform the homes of military families across the country. Wojcik said the show’s production staff was amazed at the community support the project received.
“Not only the community and veteran support, but the skilled support,” he said. “Carpenters, electricians, they showed up with their own tools, ‘hey, how can we help.’ … That’s the Midwest for you. …
“Me and Terri, we do in our lives what we think is right. We never expect anything in return; if we see someone in need, we go out and help. To see the community appreciate us, that really, really showed with the amount of volunteers.”
The Wojcik family episode is expected to air on Lifetime on Nov. 8.