Jonathon Blank joined the Marine Corps in 2006 to serve and protect his country. In 2010, Blank was deployed to Afghanistan where he tragically lost both his legs following an explosion.
After graduating from high school, Jonathon Blank joined the Marine Corps in 2006 to serve and protect his country. In 2010, Blank was deployed to Afghanistan where he tragically lost both his legs following an explosion. Coping with the loss of his legs was incredibly difficult for him, however, he managed to pull through. Today, nine years since the incident, The Gary Sinise Foundation has decided to build a specially adapted smart home in Midway to make his life easier. According to reports, actor Gary Sinise, who played the role of a disable Lieutenant in Forrest Gump, phoned Blank to let him know that his foundation has decided to make the "next phase of life much easier" for him.
"It’s such an incredible gift," said a grateful Blank who simply couldn't contain his emotions after hearing about a new custom-made home. He added, "Even some of those tough guys, when they found out about this, they got pretty emotional about it." The Marine corp also suffered shrapnel injuries to his head and arm which required him to seek prolonged medical attention. Even to this day, the 32-year-old veteran endures migraines, chronic pain, and insomnia. He believes the world is still not accommodative of the disabled. "The world is not meant for people with disabilities. It’s just a hard truth and that’s something that I’ve dealt with every day since I was injured."
The Gary Sinise Foundation, through its RISE program, has already built 58 specially adapted smart homes for severely wounded veterans. The founder of this program, Sinise, has been volunteering his services to build such customized homes for them. The program made the announcement regarding this specially designed home on Thursday. Gary Sinise Foundation's senior project manager, Pete Franzen said Blank deserves a home "that will make his next phase of life much easier." Jorgenson Builders, who builds these customized homes for Gary Sinise Foundation, added that Blank's house would be complete in a year.
Jake Jorgenson, the general contractor overlooking this project further explained how they would be providing simplified access in and around this house for Blank. "We really have to be thinking about how they are going to access each of the levels of the house," said Jorgenson. Speaking about the plan of this home he shared that there would be a lower level and would also have a stairlift or elevator for Blank to switch levels with ease. The veteran who currently lives in a three-level home shared how small tasks such as going up and down the stairs become a really cumbersome process at times. "Some days it just gets old," he said adding that he was looking forward to the specially designed home.
"These injuries do take a significant effect and sadly shorten guys’ lives," he added. When Chris Kuban from Gary Sinise Foundation asked Blank why he wanted to live in Midway, the veteran replied, "Have you looked around?" Kuban shared his eagerness to get started with this project. "We’re excited to be here to build this specially adaptive smart home with you," he said. According to the KSL, the home for the retired marine corps will be energy efficient, including light fixtures and shades that can be easily controlled via an iPad. The home will also have voice-activated technology which can open doors and switch on music on command.
Honored to play here at The Villages for our nations veterans and defenders! https://t.co/cVn8ciT2Vz— Gary Sinise (@GarySinise) 27 October 2019
A spacious customized kitchen is also in the making which would allow Blank to cook for his guests. "Honestly, I didn’t really know that I would be so involved with the planning and the layout of the building," Blank added excitedly. Talking about how amazing these new changes would be, Brittney Harris, Blank's girlfriend said, "He’s dragging, hauling all his stuff up and down the stairs all the time. Nothing slows him down, but just to imagine cupboards that he can pull down and reach rather than having to jump up there — it’s going to be such a huge difference for him."