The national nonprofit Homes For Our Troops broke ground in Queen Creek last week on a custom home for U.S. Marine Cpl. Yevgeniy "Yev" Shenker, who was seriously injured in Afghanistan, and his family. Homes For Our Troops (HFOT) is a 501c(3) nonprofit whose mission is to build and donate specially adapted custom homes nationwide for severely injured post 9/11 veterans.
"Yev is very family-oriented, humble, and extremely grateful to be receiving the home. He is looking forward to be able to spend more quality time with his wife and children once he receives his Homes For Our Troops home," said Teresa Franco Verity, marketing associate for Homes For Our Troops. She said all veterans must apply to their program to be considered for a new home. You can learn more about the application process and view basic qualifying criteria here: www.hfotusa.org/help.
"Construction usually takes six to nine months but can sometimes be longer due to factors like weather," Franco Verity said. "We will have a key ceremony when we present the veteran with the home. The ceremony will include speakers, ribbon cutting, and flag raising. There will also be a volunteer day shortly before the key ceremony where the community is invited to help with the landscaping plan of the home by laying sod, planting, flowers and trees."
Shenker was injured during his first combat deployment in Afghanistan when an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated, injuring him and six of his comrades. Shenker lost his left leg and sustained severe damage to his right leg and arm.
Now medically retired, Shenker and his wife, Maggie, are proud parents to their sons William and Luka. When he’s not spending time with his family, Shenker enjoys building, repairing and riding Harley Davidson motorcycles. He is interested in exploring other activities in his community, and intends to live life to the fullest. He recently got back into an old hobby of building computers. Receiving a donated, specially adapted custom HFOT home will give Shenker the financial freedom to expand on his interests and go to trade school for metal fabrication.
In their current home, the doorways are narrow, making it difficult for Shenker to use his wheelchair. His wife often assists him, but Shenker is still determined to be independent and often hops around to navigate throughout the home. As insistent as Shenker is to do things for himself, he still gets frustrated when he is not able to perform daily tasks. Cooking is especially challenging for Shenker because it requires him to wear his prosthetic for long stretches of time, which often becomes painful. Additionally, Shenker has difficulty using the steps to enter and exit the home.
A new specially adapted custom home will give Shenker and his family a safe environment and peace of mind, HFOT officials said.
"He is looking forward to having plenty of space to entertain family and friends and hopes his home will act as a safe haven for veterans. Most of all, Yev is looking forward to being able to play in the yard with his sons. Yev watches his youngest son, Luka, full-time while Maggie works from home. He loves getting to spend the extra time with his son, but often becomes discouraged when he cannot take him to play outside because of the rocky landscaping around their home," HFOT stated.
Shenker wants HFOT’s donors to know he is incredibly grateful for their generosity.
“Your kindness brings happiness to so many veterans who have been struggling since their injury. What you all do for us is truly selfless and gracious. From the bottom of my heart, I can’t thank you enough for the gift of a safe place, a home,” Shenker said.
Originally from Kansas, Shenker said he is choosing to build his HFOT home in Queen Creek "for the area’s excellent school system." In an effort to steer his life in the right direction, Shenker joined the Marines as an infantryman after graduating from high school in 2005.
In 2011, during his first combat deployment, Shenker was on a clearing effort in Sangin District, Helmand Province, Afghanistan, with the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division, when an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated, injuring Shenker and six of his comrades. Shenker lost his left leg and sustained severe damage to his right leg and arm. Once back in the United States, Shenker chose to be treated at Balboa Medical Center in San Diego for the remainder of his recovery to be closer to his unit when they returned.
HFOT has built 325 homes since the organization's inception in 2004. They rely on contributions from donors, supporters and corporate partners for the building of each veteran's home. Community members may host fundraisers or make donations to their efforts. To find out how to get involved or make a donation, visit www.hfotusa.org.