GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. (AP) – Corey Garmon has a lot to celebrate as he gets ready to begin a new chapter in his life.
Most of all, he looks forward to his “Alive Day.”
He hopes he and his family are able to celebrate in their new house in Guntersville by July 11, the anniversary of the date he was wounded by an IED blast while deployed in Afghanistan.
“That’s more of a celebration for me than my birthday,” he said recently as he watched volunteers from six states work to frame the house.
Corey lost both legs below the knee, lost 70 percent of the use of his left hand, lost his left pinky, sustained moderate damage to an eye and was diagnosed with moderate traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.
He and his wife, Megan, have spent much of the last two years at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. They celebrated the birth of their daughter, Kyleigh, in September.
Corey has been approved for discharge from the Army, officially on June 11.
He is scheduled to begin his exit leave on April 25 and will be able to return home for good then.
On June 12, he plans to start the next phase of his life.
Through Veterans Affairs programs, he will begin a construction and contracting business – a job he knew a little about before he joined the Army in 2011.
He is approved for 100 percent disability through the Department of Veterans Affairs, but it’s not about the money, he said.
“I want to do something that will keep me up and out of my wheelchair,” he said. “I could stay home and play Xbox, go fishing and take care of my daughter, but I want to stay busy.”
Corey said many disabled veterans choose not to work, but the VA encourages them to.
The new house is designed with his needs in mind.
Corey is fitted with prosthetics, but needs to use a wheelchair while at home to give his limbs time to rest.
The new home will be wheelchair accessible and also will have a roll-in shower with a required 5-foot clearance all around the entrance. An exit door with a covered porch also is required, but the remainder of the house will basically be like most other homes.
It’s 2,800 square feet, with three bedrooms and two baths, along with an exercise room, safe room and garage with enough room for their vehicles and Corey’s wheelchairs, Segway and other items he needs to maneuver.
There will be a walk-in closet in the master bedroom.
“This is a little embarrassing, but I have more clothes than Megan does,” Corey said. He said groups and organizations are always giving away T-shirts at Walter Reed.
“I have pink ones, purple ones,” he said. “It’s just hard to turn down a free T-shirt.”
There also will be a back porch where Corey can place an outdoor kitchen, and he will have a small “mancave,” expected to be decorated in his beloved Florida Gators decor.
Corey is able to do many of the things he did before he was injured, and he said he appreciates it now more than ever.
“I have learned not to take anything for granted,” he said.
Volunteers have been working on the Garmons’ home for several weeks. The goal is to have it finished by summer, said Mike Fitzpatrick, national chairman of Corey Garmon Build.
Fitzpatrick is from Kentucky. He heard about the project and wanted to get involved. He is a veteran and wants to give back to others who have made such sacrifice.
He said he has been amazed at the response from volunteers willing to help or donate supplies or money.
Groundbreaking ceremonies were in February.
Keith Hulsey is the general contractor, Fitzpatrick said.
He said food and lodging costs were paid for the volunteers.
The work recently was very visible, with the walls and trusses going up. Fitzpatrick said volunteers already are lined up to continue work, but more supplies and volunteers are needed for some of the labor.
Fitzpatrick said items like kitchen countertops, drywall, a fiberglass tub and shower unit, floor vents, insulation, a shelving system throughout the house, columns for the porch and vinyl trim also are needed.
The number of items donated will help determine how much more money the project needs to raise.
Fitzpatrick said it is his goal to hand the keys to Corey and Megan, mortgage free.
Megan and Corey were sent photographs of the progress of the work over the past few weeks, but they recently visited to see the work first hand.
Megan said she cried when she saw the house for the first time.
“This is just incredible,” she said. “It’s amazing that these volunteers are doing this for us because of what Corey did for our country.”
Flags are flying at the edge of the street, lining the property. Those flags are available to purchase for $30 in honor or memory of someone who served in the military. The flags will be flown until the house is complete, then the flag and a plaque will be mailed to the person who made the purchase.
Flags can be purchased through the flag tribute at http://www.coreygarmon.com.
Information from: The Gadsden Times
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