Retired Army Major Jeremy Haynes is embarking on a new phase of life after being paralyzed in the line of duty; a specially adapted smart home is giving the wounded soldier a second opportunity at life as a loving husband and father of six.
“I couldn’t capture just the overwhelming joy that I felt,” Haynes told ABC 7 News, opening the doors to the family’s new Clifton, Virginia, residence on Jan. 30, 2020. “Finally there’s a home where we can actually grow together.”
As per the Gary Sinise Foundation, Jeremy pledged to serve his country after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, was commissioned as a second lieutenant, and shortly thereafter was deployed to Afghanistan.
Jeremy, having left two sons and his pregnant wife, Chelsea, at home in the United States, was shot four times by an Afghan soldier in Kabul on Aug. 5, 2014; he woke up in a German hospital, paralyzed. Jeremy transferred to the Walter Reed Military Medical Center in Maryland, where Chelsea rushed to his side.
Adapting to the demands of life in a wheelchair within a rapidly growing family was a huge task for the wounded soldier, until a generous gift from the Gary Sinise Foundation changed everything.
Jeremy, Chelsea—an Army soldier herself—and the couple’s six children were shocked and overjoyed when they opened the doors to their brand-new adaptive home. In footage shared on YouTube, the family explores each and every room with growing awe and excitement. And for Jeremy, the adaptive features sparked hope.
“Accessibility is really tough,” Jeremy explained to WDVM, “moving around tight spaces, not being able to enter the laundry room and doing something simple like taking out the trash.”
All the electronic functions of the Hayneses’ brand-new family home, from lights to security measures, are controlled through an iPad, giving Jeremy back a vital sense of control and ownership over his life. The veteran has also been emancipated from the struggle of having to navigate narrow doorways and uneven flooring.
“There’s a big difference between a 24-inch door and a 36-inch door,” Jeremy reflected, as per ABC 7 News. “That difference is the ability to tuck your kids in at night, being able to read them a bedtime story.”
A shower used to take up to an hour, Jeremy reflected. In his adaptive bathroom, with amenities to transfer from his wheelchair easily and comfortably, the veteran estimated that he could bathe in as little as 10 to 15 minutes.
Jeremy had always asserted that he would learn to walk again, and in receiving the keys to his family’s new adaptive home, the veteran did manage to stand proudly at the podium to deliver his words of thanks. “I’m beyond grateful for your contributions, for your sacrifices,” he said to the build team, as per NBC Washington. “It truly means a lot to me.”
Actor and veterans’ advocate Gary Sinise inaugurated the Gary Sinise Foundation in 2011 to offer support to military veterans, first responders, and their families. To date, the foundation’s R.I.S.E. Program, aided by generous donors, has gifted 61 smart homes to severely wounded warriors and their families.
Jeremy is now embarking on his “second chance at life.” The father of six is working toward a PhD in business administration and is looking forward to enjoying the myriad comforts of his custom-built, accessible smart home.
“To you and your beautiful children,” said R.I.S.E. Program’s senior project manager Pete Franzen, in moving footage shared on YouTube, “may this home and the independence it restores be a reminder to you of the gratefulness and support of those you have so faithfully served.”
“Babe, you already have a hard time getting me out the house,” Jeremy joked with Chelsea as the family explored their new abode. “I ain’t leaving this house, man!”
Author: Louise Bevan
Source: The Epoch Times: Paralyzed Soldier’s Family of 8 Gifted Life-Altering Smart Home From Gary Sinise Foundation