SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Climbing stairs, getting in and out of bed, even pouring a cup of coffee are all everyday things so many of us take for granted.
On Tuesday, an entire community in Sevier County celebrated as an injured veteran will no longer encounter obstacles with those everyday tasks.
A new, specially adapted home is under construction that will be better accessible and ease challenges for retired Army Staff Sgt. Casey Jones.
“With this shower I can transfer just straight into the shower, onto a pedestal that will be raised straight from the wheelchair and then I can come back to the wheelchair after the shower and get dressed. In the closet I’ll have an area just for my legs. So, I can put my legs on and off easily, that will help quite a bit,” Jones said.
The Gary Sinise Foundation is providing the Jones family their new home mortgage-free.
“I am grateful to be a small part of a much bigger team of Americans that come around and rally around our veterans. To see that outpouring of love today, it’s just a humbling experience,” Pete Franzen, senior project manager with the Gary Sinise Foundation, said.
Jones joined the military after high school in 2008, becoming a senior explosive ordinance disposal team member. On May 16, 2013, Jones was deployed in Senjaray, Afghanistan, and tasked with clearing a compound. Jones was assisting his team leader when he stepped on an IED that detonated.
Jones lost both of his legs and healed at Walter Reed National Military Center, spending two years learning how to walk again.
“We wanted to heal in our own way and so that’s why we chose Tennessee and we feel that nature really helps the healing process,” he said
Tuesday marked the half-way point of construction and the community gathered inside Jones’ home to write messages of support on the framing of the walls.
“Just the amount of support I get from the community and everybody, it really comes a long way and I really do appreciate it,” Jones said.
“We count it a privilege to serve these guys day in and day out. They are the true heroes,” Franzen said.
When the home is complete, a flag pole will be incorporated in the front yard for Jones to wave the stars and stripes.
“Just seeing that every day is going to make my heart flutter a little bit. I’m very proud to be an American,” Jones said.
Construction on the home began this fall and crews hope to finish up, making it move-in ready for the Jones family by late spring, early summer.
During his years of service, he earned notable awards including the Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal, NCO Development Award, Good Conduct Medal and the Afghanistan Campaign Medal.