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Ret. U.S. Army Specialist Recieves his Dream Home on 9/11

The Sacrifices of those on 9/11 and the years that followed in U.S. led conflicts were honored yesterday by awarding a smart home to 27 year-old retired U.S Army SPC E-4 Matt Leyva.  We took a look at the homes smart features on Monday in Pompey.  A patriotic themed event was staged outside of the home.  Picture this.  U.S. flags lined the driveway leading to the new home and a giant flag suspended to partially block the full view.  And then it was unveiled with the crowd prompted to say, “MOVE THAT FLAG!”  The home is situated on a spacious lot with a panoramic view of evergreens.

Credit John Smith / WAER News
Matt Leyva is handed a large key to his new home.

Leyva was injured during a foot patrol in Afghanistan when he likely triggered an I.E.D.  The blast resulted in Leyva completely losing his legs and several fingertips on both hands and two years of recovery.  He was sent to Germany and then Texas to recover.  The home’s smart features are a dream come true.  Leyva spoke to the crowd over a microphone.

“Everybody who comes to support me…  I can’t thank you enough for this.  This is something.  I’m really about to enjoy this house… about to use the full advantage to be independent.  Just be myself, again.  I really appreciate it.”

Before Levya went inside his new home for the first time, a dedication of a plaque on a stone to honor the young man and F.D.N.Y. Captain Billy Burke who died in the North Tower of the World Trade Center.  An emcee read a proclamation outside.

Credit John Smith / WAER News

“He stayed there in a stairwell with somebody who was handicapped who could not get down the stairs but, ordered his men out.  That is a definition of a hero.”

Credit John Smith / WAER News
Leyva as he's about to go inside his new home for the first time.

And then it was time to go inside. Leyva was asked for his initial reaction and he replied “Awesome” and let out a laugh of pure joy and amazement.

The kitchen’s motorized features allow the cupboards and appliances to be within reach for Levya.  He tested out a new adjustable stove and a microwave located below the counter that actually extends out of the wall on command through the use smart tablet or manually.  The spacious, open floor plan will allow Leyva to move with ease.  He joked that he plans to do donuts in his wheelchair.  A very spacious bathroom features specialized equipment to easily operate faucets and extra room to allow Leyva’s wheelchair inside.

“Cooking, reaching up in the cabinets… that’s going to be the first in 6 years.  I’m excited to start all of this.  I’ve been itching to be as independent as I can.  I don’t like people taking care of me but, I’m about to take full advantage right now.”

The house is presenting by the Stephen Siller Tunnel 2 Towers Foundation through a program known as “Building for America’s Bravest.”  The off duty firefighter died on 9/11 by running through a blocked tunnel to the Twin Towers.  Heroes who responded and perished on that fateful day, including U.S. military members who have in the war on terror ever since are honored.

“This is Matt’s Homestead, built in gratitude for his service for America and in recognition for selfless sacrifice of F.D.N.Y. Captain Billy Burke who laid down his life for others on September 11, 2001.  On behalf of the Tunnel 2 Towers Foundation, thank you to the Burke family.  God bless you for your sacrifices.” - Proclamation

Leyva says he was nominated for his custom home by another wounded solider.