Welcome Home Warrior is an initiative to give back to the men, women and families that are making (and have made) countless sacrifices every day to give others the ability to pursue the American Dream. Because of the dedicated service of our military members and their families, I was given the opportunity to pursue my dream. Now, my wife and I have the privilege of helping people attain the dream of home ownership. We are grateful for this opportunity, and we are grateful to ...those fighting for our freedom. That’s why we started Welcome Home Warrior, and I encourage you to join us.
Our goal with Welcome Home Warrior is twofold: 1) to create the best and most cost effective home buying/selling experience possible. We have worked very hard to strategically plan a course of action that will allow us to actually help the families we are working to serve, and collaborate with other great organizations while not duplicating their efforts. 2) To celebrate and honor military members, veterans and their families, while also making a monetary donation to a military oriented charity at the conclusion of every transaction.
We cannot successfully achieve these goals, or give back to these incredible causes, without immense community support and help. I encourage you to take the time to learn more about our mission, and let’s talk about ways we can achieve this together. Let’s serve the families that defend this great Country, and honor their service in all that we do.
Thank you for your time and consideration,
Founder, Welcome Home Warrior
CURRENT PROJECT - RIVERSIDE, CA:
Gustavo Zarate always knew he wanted to serve in the military. Right after high school he enlisted in the Army joining the 82nd Airborne Division as an Infantryman.
On May 19, 2012, during his first deployment to Afghanistan with the Echo Company, 307th BSB, 1st BCT, 82nd ABN DIV, shrapnel from an improvised explosive device (IED) struck Army Specialist Zarate in his head and body, causing a traumatic brain injury (TBI)....
Gustavo’s injuries were so severe, doctors told his family he might not make it and if he did, there was a high chance he may never see, walk, or talk again. After three weeks of being in a coma, Gustavo defied the odds and opened his eyes. From that point, he slowly began to regain function and is now able to walk with assistance. He loves spending time with his three dogs, swimming, playing board games, and keeping up with technology. His brother and caretaker Hector says he is proud of Gustavo for persevering. “If I was in Gustavo’s place, I would be depressed. But he’s not – he’s happy and I really admire him,” he says.
Though Gustavo has made significant progress, he still has not regained his ability to speak, and experiences seizures as a result of his TBI. He can walk short distances on his own, but uses his wheelchair the majority of the time.
Throughout his recovery, Gustavo’s family, especially his parents and Hector, have been at his side. The family shares a home, but the living space is small. This situation makes it challenging for Gustavo to maneuver around the home in his wheelchair, and routine tasks like bathing and accessing the kitchen are challenging. Hector says his brother will benefit greatly from a specially adapted custom Homes For Our Troops home with an open floor plan and roll-in shower.
Hector and his family wish Gustavo could fully express his thoughts and emotions, but they know he is happy to have a second chance at life. When they asked Gustavo how he feels about receiving a specially adapted custom home, his face lit up with a smile.
Hector says he and his family are incredibly grateful to HFOT’s donors and supporters who will give Gustavo this opportunity for happiness. “Thank you for giving my brother another reason to smile and the feeling he has not been and will never be forgotten,” Hector says. “On behalf of my family and Gustavo thank you for being a part of his unforgettable journey.”
CURRENT PROJECT - ANCHORAGE, AK:
Randall Young had just finished college when he enlisted in the Army at the age of 24. Growing up at Fort Hood, TX, Randall was no stranger to the military, and knew he wanted to be someone that helped Soldiers come home. He served in the Texas National Guard during his senior year of high school and the Ohio National Guard during college. Once he became active duty he served in Kuwait for two years before going on his first combat deployment ...to Iraq in 2003 as a cavalry scout with 1-4 Cavalry, 1st Infantry Division.
On Feb. 7, 2007, during his second combat deployment, SSG Young’s vehicle hit an improvised explosive device (IED) while supporting a dismounted patrol searching for insurgents. The blast partially ejected SSG Young through the turret before the truck landed on its roof and crushed his legs.
Once back in the United States, Randall was transported to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, TX where his mom and sister were waiting for him. It was there that the doctors gave Randall the option to amputate his legs or reconstruct the bones. Randall chose to save his legs despite being told that he would never walk well, and would likely struggle with pain for the rest of his life. After two years of physical therapy, he beat the odds and took his first steps with the assistance of a cane. He continues to exercise daily to maintain the ability to walk.
Now medically retired, Randall currently faces many challenges in the RV he shares with his wife, Jessica. Although Randall can walk, his injuries put pressure on his back and upper legs causing tension pains. A specially adapted custom Homes For Our Troops home will enable him to shower and bathe safely without fear of falling. With widened doorways and a single level home, Randall will be able to utilize his wheelchair more often.
In the new home, Randall will have more time to spend on his hobbies and interact with the community. He plans on furthering his photography skills and growing a garden. He also looks forward to having a kitchen that will allow him to cook for himself and his wife.
Randall says he is grateful to HFOT’s donors and supporters for making a fresh start possible. “The house that HFOT has offered to build for my wife and I, to build our lives and rejoin the community, comes as such a blessing,” he says. “This is made possible only because of you, the people that have given not only monetary donations, but time, effort and care for all this country’s returning children. Thank you for giving to such a wonderful cause and organization.”
CURRENT PROJECT - HENDERSONVILLE, TN:
While on foot patrol with the 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, supporting 3/8 Marines, Corporal Joseph Woodke stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED) in Helmand Province, Afghanistan on March 29, 2011. The blast resulted in the loss of both legs and damage to his right ear.
During his year and a half long stay at Walter Reed Medical Center, Cpl Woodke underwent several surgeries for his legs and ear....
Now medically retired, Joseph has become an accomplished athlete. He has hand cycled in seven marathons and is training to make the U.S. Paralympic Team for weight lifting. He would like to use these skills to eventually open his own gym. A mortgage-free, specially adapted home, he says, will help him with these goals as it would lift the financial burden. He is also looking forward to the wide open floor plan, which will make it easier for him to get around while in his wheelchair. Having an automatic door will be beneficial when carrying items into the home, too.
Originally from Michigan, Joseph just moved to Nashville for a warmer climate and would like to build his home near that area.
Joseph says it’s hard to put into words how grateful he is for the support not just for himself but for all wounded Veterans. “Good people like HFOT’s donors and supporters are the reason why we were all willing to go to war. We wanted to defend them and this country,” he says. “Thank you for the help and I hope you keep supporting this great charity.”
CURRENT PROJECT - WINCHESTER, CA:
Like most young boys, Marcus Wilson’s father was like a superhero to him. Naturally he followed his legacy and became a Marine too. Unfortunately, his father never got to see him in uniform, as he passed away shortly before Marcus headed to boot camp.
In 2006, First Sergeant Wilson was on his second deployment as an Infantryman with the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines to Iraq. On Nov. 14, 2006, he and his unit had just finished a bridge assessment...
CURRENT PROJECT - CANYON LAKE, TX:
After a few years in the workforce, LisaMarie Wiley joined the Army wanting to do better, not just for herself but for others as well.
She deployed twice to Afghanistan serving as a human intelligence collector with the HUMINT Platoon, Bravo Company, 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 10th Mountain Division. On Nov. 20, 2011, during her second deployment, Army Sergeant Wiley was supporting the 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, in Pa’in... Kalay, Afghanistan when she stepped on a daisy-chained improvised explosive device (IED). She sustained multiple injuries as a result of the blast, including the loss of her left leg below the knee.
While she was still recovering at Brooke Army Medical Center, she joined the Army’s Warrior Transition Battalion, which provides support to injured Servicemembers and helps them transition back to military or civilian life.
Now medically retired, LisaMarie enjoys tending to her garden, spending time outdoors, thrifting, and crafting metal and wood projects. She and her fiancée Matt Ryals have plans to create a nonprofit organization as part of the Maker Movement that provides a space for the community to learn, teach, and be creative. She is currently pursuing degrees in biology at the University of Texas San Antonio. She already has a bachelor’s in fine arts from The Art Institute’s Miami International University of Art and Design and she has studied in the Cochise College Intelligence Studies program. She was recently appointed the consumer rep for the VA’s Federal Advisory Committee for Prosthetics and Special Disabilities. What LisaMarie is most looking forward to though, is starting and raising a family with Matt.
Receiving a specially adapted Homes For Our Troops home will alleviate LisaMarie’s daily challenges, opening up more time for her to focus on her future plans. In her current home, the floors are uneven, causing LisaMarie to trip or fall while walking on her prosthetic. Having a wheelchair accessible bathroom, she will no longer fear falling while taking a shower. “Receiving this home means I will not have to exist in my future unhappy. I am not my amputation, I am my future,” she says.
LisaMarie is choosing to remain in her home state of Texas to be close to the VA and family.
LisaMarie says she will never be able to fully express her gratitude, love, and admiration for HFOT’s donor and supporters who will contribute to the building of her home. “You are giving me more than just a house, you are giving peace of mind to those who need it the most.”
CURRENT PROJECT - MEXICO, NY:
Army Specialist Ryan Wilcox first deployed to Iraq as a combat engineer with the 479th Engineer Battalion in 2007. During that deployment on March 13, 2008, he sustained a gunshot wound to his right leg while on a route clearance mission. Upon his recovery, he returned to active duty and deployed to Afghanistan in 2012 with the 444th Engineer Battalion. During this combat tour, SPC Wilcox endured chronic pain in his leg due to extensive nerve dam...age and residual scar tissue, resulting in his medical evacuation from Afghanistan on June 7, 2012.
SPC Wilcox was subsequently treated at Walter Reed Medical Center for over 18 months. After several surgeries and nerve grafts, he underwent the amputation of his right leg below the knee.
Now medically retired, Ryan enjoys spending time with his fiancée Sara and their two children, Nicholas and Juliana. Within his current home, however, he faces barriers such as thresholds and stairs, which limit activities he can do with his family, including reading to his children at bedtime. Accessing his backyard is also challenging, often preventing him from accompanying them when they go outside to play.
A specially adapted home from Homes For Our Troops will alleviate those obstacles for Ryan and allow him to focus on his continued recovery. The freedom of navigating throughout a home that is barrier-free and situated on a level lot, Ryan says, will relieve much of his daily stress and give him more quality time and energy for his family, hobbies, and goals. “It’s not just walls and a roof – it’s allowing a Veteran to be with his family,” he says.
Ryan’s future plans include finishing his college degree and establishing a career working with other Veterans. Living in a mortgage-free home will allow him to save money toward family vacations and his children’s futures. He also looks forward to becoming more active in his son’s sporting events and getting back to hunting and camping again.
Originally from upstate New York, Ryan is choosing to build his home there to be close to family.
Ryan says he appreciates the support demonstrated nationwide by Homes For Our Troops’ supporters. “I am thankful there are people out there who care for our Veterans. HFOT supporters are transforming lives on a regular basis and I cannot say ‘Thank You’ enough to everyone involved,” Ryan says.
CURRENT PROJECT - ORLAND, FL:
In 2003, Army Sergeant Patrick Wickens deployed to Iraq, assigned as a wheel vehicle mechanic with the 4-27 Field Artillery, 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division. On May 14, 2004, he was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) during an ambush near Mahmudiyah, Iraq. He immediately lost his right leg above the knee and sustained shrapnel wounds and burns on his left leg. His medic and teammates are credited with applying tourniquets and rendering ...life-saving medical assistance, as both femoral arteries were severed in the blast.
After arriving in the United States a few days later, SGT Wickens endured weeks of surgeries and skin grafts at Walter Reed Medical Center. After repeated infections, doctors performed surgery to amputate his right leg at the hip.
Medically retired in January 2006, Patrick loves spending time with his wife Jenna and their two sons Gavin and Carter. He leads an active lifestyle by playing golf, kayaking, fishing, scuba diving, cycling, exercising, and traveling. In his spare time, Patrick volunteers with the nonprofit, The Mission Continues, building playgrounds and fixing bicycles in his community. He is also active with Fairways for Warriors, a nonprofit that provides golf equipment, instruction, and outings for injured Veterans and their families.
Although Patrick excels at activities on the green and in the water, he faces challenges within his own home. His wheelchair currently does not fit in several rooms. This environment requires Patrick to hop in and out of the shower and stand on his leg while doing laundry.
A specially adapted custom Homes For Our Troops home with an accessible bathroom and wide doorways will eliminate Patrick’s challenges around the home. The home will also give Jenna independence, as she will not have to worry about his safety when he is home alone. “This home will be the biggest blessing my family has ever received,” Patrick says.
A safe living situation will give Patrick more time to focus on his future plans, which include going back to school. Originally from Montana, Patrick is choosing to build his home in Orlando, Fla., for the warm weather and to be close to family.
Patrick says he cannot thank HFOT’s donors, volunteers and supporters enough for making his home a reality. “My entire family will benefit from this amazing, once in a lifetime opportunity,” he says. “This HFOT home represents freedom from banks and a mortgage, so we can do some of the things we have wanted to do as family.”
CURRENT PROJECT - WIMBERLEY, TX:
After watching a military documentary when he was 13-years-old, Matthew Wheeler’s future plans were set – he knew he wanted to serve. Matthew also has a family history of military service – his grandfather was in the Army for 30 years, and both his parents were in the Air Force. However, Matthew is the first in his family to become a Marine.
On June 18, 2011, during his fourth deployment as an explosive ordnance (EOD) technician with the 1st B...attalion, 5th Marines, Staff Sergeant Wheeler was on a patrol crossing a canal when he noticed the corpsman was struggling. As he turned around to help the corpsman, SSgt Wheeler stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED), causing the bones in his right leg to break and his heel bone to shatter. SSgt Wheeler says he is grateful he was the only one injured in the blast.
After years of dealing with unbearable pain in his injured leg, doctors diagnosed Matthew with complex regional pain syndrome, a condition that causes extreme sensitivity, burning pain, swelling, and stiffness. After trying several unsuccessful treatments for the pain, Matthew elected to have doctors amputate his right foot. The surgery removed the pain in Matthew’s right leg, and he now wears a prosthetic and is off most of his medication.
Even though Matthew has made significant progress, he still experiences daily pain and uses a wheelchair when he is at home. Since his current home is two levels, he cannot go upstairs to tend to his children or put them to bed at night. This causes his wife Emilee to take on much of the childcare responsibilities. In a single-level Homes For Our Troops home with an open floor plan and wide hallways and doorways, Matthew will be able to help Emilee around the house and care for his children.
Without the burden of a mortgage, Matthew will have more time to further his education to progress his career as an investor account manager for the startup company ListingSpark. Regaining this independence and freedom within his own home will also open up more time for his other hobbies. He is involved with his church, running the security team for the building and mentoring teenagers. He would also like to help more with Patriots and Heroes Outdoors, which takes injured Veterans on hunting and fishing trips.
Originally from Texas, Matthew and his family are choosing to remain in the Lone Star State to be close to their family and church.
Matthew wants HFOT’s donors and supporters to know he is incredibly grateful for their support. “Life can sometimes be discouraging, but it is so much easier to rise above those obstacles knowing how many people support us and are rooting for us. You truly have no idea the immense impact you have on us,” he says. “We are so thankful for all of you.”
CURRENT PROJECT - RAMONA, CA:
During his second combat tour in February 2012, Marine Sergeant Kaleb Weakley, a field artillery cannoneer, was on a routine patrol with the 2nd Battalion, 11th Marines, in southern Helmand Province, Afghanistan when he was hit by enemy fire in the left leg and right arm.
Once back in the United States, Kaleb underwent more than 20 surgeries on his leg and arm over the course of two years. It is possible he may need to amputate his left leg in th...e future. While recovering at Balboa Naval Medical Center, Kaleb met his wife, Sydney.
Now medically retired, Kaleb and Sydney became parents to their daughter Scarlet in 2015. Kaleb enjoys hunting, fishing, off-roading, shooting, and running. He is active within his community as a member of the American Legion, and does motivational speaking at local schools. He is also a firearms and archery instructor.
Although Kaleb leads an active lifestyle, he uses his wheelchair to get around his home. This makes many daily activities challenging as his wheelchair cannot fit in many rooms in his current home. Receiving a specially adapted custom Homes For Our Troops home with an open floorplan, and wide doorways and hallways, will alleviate these issues. Standing for long periods of time is difficult for Kaleb, so having an accessible kitchen with roll under sinks and lower countertops will make cooking easier.
The new home will provide Kaleb with the foundation to move forward with his future. His goal is to attend the Game Warden Academy in Bute, California, in October 2018 to become a conservation officer. He is currently finishing his associate’s degree in social and behavioral sciences at Cuyamaca College. He also likes to dedicate his time toward helping others through the nonprofit Outdoor Experience for All (OE4A), that takes terminally ill children hunting. “This home will give me the freedom to help my community,” he says.
Originally from Virginia, Kaleb is choosing to build his home in Southern California for the area’s agriculture and farming opportunities.
Kaleb has several friends who have received HFOT homes and he has seen how it has improved their lives. “I have seen the freedoms they enjoy and how it allows them to be active members of their community,” he says. “HFOT is a great organization that I fully support and hold near and dear to my heart. The organization is doing great things to help our nation’s wounded Servicemembers.”
CURRENT PROJECT - WEST SALEM, OR:
In 2010, Army Staff Sergeant Frank Wasson III was on his second deployment and serving as an Infantryman squad leader with the 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, in Kunar Province, Afghanistan. On Aug. 18, 2010, SSG Wasson’s platoon was ambushed during a night patrol. SSG Wasson’s vehicle was hit by two rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), resulting in the loss of his left leg.
SSG Wasson spent the next two years un...dergoing surgeries and rehabilitation at Walter Reed Medical Center and Brooke Army Medical Center before medically retiring in 2013.
Frank finds that his current living environment is not safe, accessible or comfortable. He has frequently tripped on the carpeted floors and has also slipped in the shower on his prosthetic. A new specially adapted Homes For Our Troops home with hardwood floors and a roll-in shower will eliminate these hazards.
The mortgage-free aspect of the home will provide stability for Frank, his wife Brooke, and their two sons and daughter. “This home will be a forever home for my family and me to enjoy, instead of worrying about when our next move will be,” he says.
Once he receives the home, Frank is looking forward to dedicating more time coaching his sons’ baseball teams and going back to school. He also looks forward to having more time to play on his Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team, and pursuing his other hobbies including hunting, fishing, and photography. Currently, Frank serves at an organization that hosts a camp for children with physical challenges and amputations.
Originally from Salem, Oregon, Frank is choosing to build his home there to be close to family.
Frank says receiving the home is “a blessing beyond measure” and is grateful to HFOT’s donors and supporters who are making it possible. “I cannot thank you enough for giving my family and me the gift of a fresh start and making my life much easier. It will be a huge relief to me mentally and financially,” he says.
CURRENT PROJECT - CARTERSVILLE, GA:
Army Sergeant Robert “Finn” Visbal joined the military right after high school as a tanker to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, who was also a tanker in the Army. He deployed once to Iraq in 2008, and then to Afghanistan in 2011, as a gunner with A Company, 1-5 Infantry, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division. On Dec. 4, 2011, his unit was on a mission clearing abandoned compounds and building roads, when his vehi...cle drove over an improvised explosive device (IED). SGT Visbal sustained significant damage to his left leg and right foot in the blast.
After numerous surgeries and months of physical therapy, SGT Visbal’s left leg was amputated below the knee.
Now medically retired, Finn is pursuing a degree in automotive technology at Chattahoochee Community College. He is also working as a mechanic at a local franchise. Finn and his wife Holley got married in August 2016 and they became parents to a baby boy in January 2017.
Receiving a specially adapted custom home from Homes For Our Troops, will offer him the space, comfort, and freedom to focus on his recovery and rebuilding his life. Living in a single-level home also means Finn will not have to haul a heavy backpack while climbing stairs. Being able to use his wheelchair more around the home, will make parenting easier for Finn. He is also looking forward to having a garage in his new home where he can have the space to work on cars, a favorite hobby.
Originally from Georgia, Finn is choosing to build his home outside Atlanta to be close to family.
Finn is grateful to HFOT’s donors and supporters for making it possible for him to receive a specially adapted home. “Thank you for helping wounded Veterans like myself to be able to get back to living life as normally as possible. It means the world to me,” he says.
CURRENT PROJECT - CADDO, TX:
On Feb. 6, 2007, Army Specialist Thomas Vandeventer, an armor crewman, was serving with the 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, in Baghdad, Iraq, when explosively formed projectiles (EFPs) struck the vehicle he was driving. The blast resulted in the loss of both his legs.
Once he returned to the United States, Thomas was treated at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio where he underwent more than 20 surgeries....
Now medically retired, Thomas enjoys spending time with his wife LeAnn and their two children, Isabelle and John. Living in a non-adaptive home places limitations on the activities he can do with his family. In his current living situation, Thomas has to climb on countertops since he cannot reach the shelves. This creates stress not only for him, but his family as well. LeAnn never wants to leave Thomas alone for fear he will hurt himself. Receiving a specially adapted custom Homes For Our Troops home with pull down shelves and roll under sinks will provide a safe environment for Thomas. With these challenges eliminated, he will have more energy to interact with his children and pursue his goals. He is hoping to make his hobby of gunsmithing a career. “This gift will give me the motivation to go to school and I will have the space and capability to hone my skills,” he says.
Originally from Dallas, Thomas is choosing to remain in Texas and build his home close to family.
Thomas and LeAnn say Homes For Our Troops is a “Godsend” and they are grateful to the organization’s donors and supporters. “My family will never be able to thank you enough for your contributions, but we will live in this home and take care of it. We will live life and make memories,” Thomas says.
CURRENT PROJECT - AUSTIN, TX:
After graduating from the University of Southern California with a business degree, Ryan Timoney enlisted in the Army to serve his country, subsequently being commissioned as a field artillery office from Office Candidate School. In early 2012, then First Lieutenant Timoney, deployed with the 214th Fires Brigade, Field Artillery unit, as part of Security Force Assistance Team (SFAT) 28. The unit’s mission was to train and assist the Afghan police... unit in Tarin Kowt, Afghanistan. On May 20, 2012, SFAT 28 was attacked by a suicide bomber. The shrapnel from the explosion hit 1LT Timoney, resulting in a craniotomy (removal of a part of the skull to reduce swelling), the loss of his left leg, partial vision loss and balance impairments.
When he arrived back in the United States, Ryan began speech and vision therapy, and training to restore his memory and walking ability at Walter Reed and the VA Hospital in Tampa. In November 2012, he underwent a cranioplasty to replace the missing portion of his skull with a custom crafted piece of metal.
Ryan’s condition had greatly improved by the spring 2013, when he married his wife, Kelby, on the beach, and he was even able to stand with his new bride for wedding photos.
Despite his impressive recovery, Ryan still experiences obstacles in traditional housing. He uses his prosthetic leg during the day, but when at home he prefers his wheelchair. The doorways in his current home are narrow and most rooms are barely wide enough for him to access. A new specially adapted home from Homes For Our Troops will remove those barriers. Additionally, its accessible bathroom with a bench and grab bars will be beneficial for Ryan as he now has to balance on one leg while he showers.
Ryan looks forward to the financial freedom and stability of a forever home in Texas, which will allow Kelby and him to move forward to the next phase of their journey, and focus on giving back and helping others. Ryan recently spent seven months working on a website for an association of churches in his area. He is also in a course offered by Veterans4Quality, which trains Veterans how to enter the Software Quality Assurance industry and connects them with companies. In his free time, he enjoys reading, spending time with friends and shooting. He also enjoys playing the piano, an activity he started as part of his music therapy after his injury.
Ryan and Kelby say they are sincerely grateful for those who will contribute to their HFOT project. “These homes are tremendous blessings, providing an opportunity to grow. Thank you so much for your support,” Ryan says.
CURRENT PROJECT - GLORIETA, NM:
James Thorne joined the military as a last minute decision in 2009 when he was 21, after his plans of going to music school did not work out.
On Oct. 8, 2010, Army Specialist Thorne was on his first deployment, searching for landmines with the 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, when he stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED) in Kandahar, Afghanistan. The blast resulted in the immediate loss of his left leg ...and severe damage to his right leg. Doctors later amputated the right leg two years after the injury.
After arriving back in the United States, James endured 75 surgeries over a ten month period at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. His father, Michael, who is also an Army Veteran, seldom left his son’s bedside through his entire recovery. “My father was the one person who was there the entire time, he has done everything for me,” James says.
Now medically retired, James continues to be aggressive in his recovery by going to the gym at least every other day, and he is currently working on getting refitted for prosthetics. Having an affinity for the arts, James plays guitar and plans to go to school for film production. Living in a mortgage-free, specially adapted Homes For Our Troops home will alleviate the stress of navigating an inaccessible environment, giving him more time to pursue these endeavors.
James loves to cook and enjoys hosting friends and family. An accessible kitchen with roll under countertops and pull-down shelves will make it easier for James to prepare meals during social gatherings. Having the extra space will also be beneficial for James to start and raise a family someday.
Born and raised in New Mexico, James is choosing to build his home there.
James is grateful for the opportunity to be receiving a specially adapted Homes For Our Troops home and is indebted to HFOT’s donors and supporters. “Because of you all, it is possible for Veterans to move on and integrate into something greater.”
CURRENT PROJECT - GRASS VALLEY, CA:
Ryan Sykes joined the military at 18, wanting to give back to his country and explore the world. He spent more than half of his military service on either training missions within the U.S. or deployments overseas.
On March 3, 2008, Navy Petty Officer First Class Ryan Sykes was on his fifth deployment to Afghanistan, serving as a special warfare analyst, when he sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and other life-threatening injuries in ...Eastern Afghanistan. Lying unconscious in the darkness for more than five hours, a local security guard found him and alerted American troops. In addition to the traumatic brain injury, he also sustained a collapsed lung, facial fractures, and hypothermia. Petty Officer Sykes was saved from further brain injury due to the freezing temperatures that limited the swelling of his brain.
Now medically retired, Ryan maintains an active lifestyle, and makes working out at the gym a priority despite his injuries, which include partial-paralysis on the left side of his body. He likes being outdoors, usually accompanied by his service dog Docker, and enjoys camping, biking, kayaking and swimming. Ryan volunteers three days a week with the local police department, where he’s able to employ the same skills he used while serving in the Navy Special Warfare units.
Though Ryan leads a busy lifestyle, he cannot do as much as he would like because his current home is not wheelchair accessible. His living situation makes it difficult to perform daily routine tasks. With a specially adapted home from Homes For Our Troops, he will be able to easily prepare meals in a kitchen with roll under countertops and pull down shelves. Additionally, he will be able to shower safely in an accessible bathroom. He looks forward to having accessible appliances, a functional kitchen, and complete wheelchair mobility, all of which he says will allow him to put his full strength and energy into trying to walk again, work longer hours at the police department, and further advance his cycling training for the US Paralympics.
With his newfound financial freedom of living mortgage-free, Ryan will be able to give back to his community through the Rotary Club, and provide a better quality of life for his son.
Ryan would like to thank those in advance who will support the building of his Homes For Our Troops home. “Thank you for this chance to start a new chapter in my life. This is an opportunity that I never dreamed of and one I shall never take for granted,” he says.