PITTSBURGH – A former Elkins resident was shocked and thrilled to learn during Sunday’s Pittsburgh Steelers’ game that she would truly being going “home for the holidays.”
Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Michelle Satterfield thought she was attending the game to be recognized for her community service.
“I had been picked for this particular game and that was what I thought I was going for,” Satterfield said.
Allegheny Technologies recognizes veterans through the “Salute to Heroes” campaign.
“I did receive the recognition from them, but (it was) part of a much larger announcement,” Satterfield said.
“Larger” as in “as big as a house.”
“I was gifted a house in Pennsylvania,” Satterfield said. “The home is from a foundation called Tunnels to Towers out of New York. They are probably the biggest part of the project. They usually do this for severely wounded veterans. I believe they said they have given 46 houses this year.”
Satterfield said she still feels a bit overwhelmed by the honor.
“I am still in shock over it,” Satterfield said. “I am very excited and very honored that someone would nominate me for this. I look forward to the opportunity this will give me to pay it forward and give back to the community that has been super supportive of my unit. My unit and a lot of my soldiers are in that area and they have been awesome to us. I still feel I am still in a dream and that it has not sunk in yet.”
Satterfield said the home was made possible by the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, along with the Pittsburgh Steelers, FedEx, Blue Roof Technologies, Tiger Vets and McKeesport High School. The home has three bedrooms and two baths, and is slated to be completed in April.
Satterfield said Blue Roof Technologies, from the McKeesport area, works “with another group called Tiger Vet, which (is) actually the students at McKeesport High School,” Satterfield said. “They are the ones who actually built the house. Blue Roof Technologies works with the students to engineer these smart homes. It’s pretty neat.”
Satterfield currently lives in Morgantown with her 12-year-old son, Robert. She works at Mylan Pharmaceuticals. She moved to Elkins in her sophomore year of high school. She graduated from Elkins High School with the class of 1998.
“Most of my family lives out west, but I still consider Elkins my home and frequently visit there,” Satterfield said. “In fact, I will be there for Christmas, staying with my adopted family – Joe, Sue and Casey Blankenship.”
Satterfield said she was not sure who nominated her for the recognition, but her career has been devoted to helping others.
“I was deployed to Iraq twice in 2005 and 2009,” Satterfield said. “In my second deployment, I worked as a medical liaison in the hospital there. I dealt with a lot of injured and ill soldiers and civilians.”
Satterfield said she did not do hands-on patient care, but was there to be the person between the soldier’s chain of command and the doctors and nurses.
“I helped keep the chain of command informed about their soldiers,” she said.
She also participated in three humanitarian missions to El Salvador and another to Peru.
“I was activated to New York for Superstorm Sandy relief,” Satterfield said. “When we came back from that, a group of us thought there was more that could be done. Myself and two other soldiers gathered donations for a couple of weeks on our own time. We drove a 17-foot rented box truck to New York to pass out these donations of clothes, food, furniture and stuff like that.”
Satterfield said she enjoyed Sunday’s game, as her stepfather is a Steelers fan and she grew up following the team.
“I was watching the game with a group of my soldiers – they offered tickets to the rest of my unit as well,” Satterfield said. “We were sitting field level, and at half time, they took us to the tunnel where the players come onto the field. They brought my brother, Jeremy Boetjer, to the game to surprise me.
“After I was recognized by ATI, they announced that FedEx had a special delivery for me, and they had brought my brother home for the holidays,” Satterfield said. “I turned around and he was in the tunnel. My brother was there and I ran over to him and brought him over to the goal line with me. Then, apparently, they started speaking about the house, but I was still wrapped up with my brother being there.”
Satterfield said she has lived in many places, and owning her own home has been a dream for years.
“Even throughout living in Morgantown, I have moved around every couple years or so,” she said. “It will be nice to have some place to settle and have my son there to call his home. The home will be located in Pittsburgh – McKeesport and White Oak area.”