National foundation helping make daily life easier for wounded Navy veteran

The Gary Sinise RISE Foundation is helping build a smart home for a Tri-State Navy veteran who was wounded in Afghanistan.
Published: Sep. 6, 2023 at 6:38 PM EDT
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MIDDLETOWN, Ohio (WXIX) - A new home is being built to give back to a Navy veteran who put his life on the line.

It has been a long journey for U.S. Navy Petty Officer First Class John Kremer.

At 20 years old, he made two deployments to Iraq, receiving numerous recognitions, including two Bronze Stars.

After returning to service in 2010, he was critically wounded during his deployment to Afghanistan.

“I ended up stepping on a landmine in Afghanistan, which resulted in the amputation of both of my legs below the knee,” explained Kremer.

Tasks like showering and cooking are no longer simple for the retired petty officer.

Daily tasks will hopefully become easier thanks to a smart home being built through a partnership with the Gary Sinise Foundation.

”From voice command to turn on and off lights to automatic shades up and down to the ability to lock your doors with a device instead of getting up from your wheelchair and go make sure the door is locked,” explained Gary Sinise Foundation RISE Program Senior Projects Manager Pete Franzen.

Kremer says the smart home features will solve a lot of his daily challenges and help him start a new chapter in his life.

“Trying to move around my apartment was ridiculous,” said Kremer. “To get to the bathroom, the bedroom was just a task in itself.”

To mark the halfway point on the home’s construction, the family, community, and Gary Sinise got to add their own personal touches by writing messages of support on the walls.

Many remember Sinise as the wounded veteran in “Forrest Gump.”

Now, he’s playing a bigger role in the lives of veterans by raising funds and building adapted smart homes for them.

Sinise started the tradition of writing messages of support on the walls of homes in 2011 - the same year the foundation started building homes for veterans and first responders.

This is the first smart home in Cincinnati for veterans built by the foundation.

It’s something Kremer says he wants to see continue in the area because of the impact it’s having on his life.

“It seems like, oh my gosh, it feels like a dream come true type thing,” said Kremer. Like, is this really going to happen? We’re really excited for the process and everything that’s going on right now. It’s definitely an experience.”

So far, the Gary Sinise Foundation has built 85 homes for veterans across the country.

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