On a sunny Monday morning, much like the same one 16 years ago, hundreds of people gathered at a Pompey home to welcome a hero.
That hero, Army SPC Matt Leyva, lost two legs and four fingers after a 2011 explosion in Afghanistan. Since then, he’s been living in a small apartment unable to perform basic chores like cooking or cleaning.
When the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation learned of his story, they decided to build him a “smart home” as they’ve done for dozens of other injured vets since 9/11.
Siller was an off-duty firefighter who died while trying to save others in the World Trade Center.
The foundation unveiled their latest home on Monday.
The ceremony, filled with skydivers, live music, and a helicopter entry by Leyva was a rock star treatment he never imagined for himself.
“It’s the home for me to start my life in,” Leyva said while looking at his new home for the first time.
The house, which features everything from an electronic doorway to automated kitchen cabinets is fully accessible and can be controlled from an iPad.
“He earned this,” Frank Siller, Stephen’s brother, said. “This is something the country owed to him. And I can’t be any happier on a day that was so sad 16 years ago.”
Leyva will own the home mortgage free.
The Tunnel to Towers foundation hopes to eventually build 200 ones like it for other severely disabled veterans across the country.