‘Another chapter’: Homes For Our Troops begins home build for local U.S. Navy veteran Ryan Sykes
A virtual community kickoff event will be streamed at 10 a.m. today for the building of a Grass Valley home for Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Ryan Sykes.
Homes For Our Troops is a nonprofit whose mission is to build and donate specially adapted custom homes for severely injured post-9/11 veterans.
The public is invited to RSVP at http://www.hfotusa.org/building-homes/veterans/sykes to receive the kickoff Zoom link.
Sykes, a Grass Valley native and graduate of Bear River High School, joined the military at 18.
In 2008, on Sykes’ fifth deployment to Afghanistan, serving as a special warfare analyst, he sustained a traumatic brain injury and other life-threatening injuries. He is now medically retired.
According to a release, the home will feature “more than 40 major special adaptations,” including widened doorways, which will allow for improved wheelchair accessibility, and pull-down shelving and lowered counter tops — all aiming to improve both mobility and safety.
Sykes said being accepted to the Homes For Our Troops program will change his life, and that he is looking forward to not worrying about being able to navigate everyday activities inside his home.
“It’s just going to be a simple process to basically live my life and do anything that I need to do,” said Sykes.
One of the speakers at today’s event will be Mike Conklin, the founder and CEO of Sentinels of Freedom, a nonprofit based in San Ramon whose mission is to support severely wounded post-9/11 veterans as they transition into their post-military careers.
Before deciding to return to Grass Valley, Sykes was a Sentinels of Freedom Scholarship recipient and lived in San Ramon, where he volunteered with the San Ramon Police Department and joined the Dougherty Valley Rotary Club for several years.
Sykes described his time with the community in San Ramon as “a huge part of my rehabilitation and of my personal growth.“
Conklin, who got to know Sykes during his several years involved with Sentinels of Freedom, described him as driven, determined, and resilient.
“Personally, for me it was hard to see him leave. But he was determined to move on and get back to his home town of Grass Valley to start a new chapter in his life, so we supported his move,” Conklin wrote in an email. “And so, another chapter in Ryan’s incredible life and journey begins with this new home.”
According to Conklin, Sentinels of Freedom is donating $10,000 to this home build.
“I’m really thankful to Homes For Our Troops for sticking with me,” said Sykes, recounting that his future home’s final location has been years in the making. “They remained dedicated to helping me out. I’m thankful for that.”
Victoria Penate is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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