More than a hundred people gathered outside Pfc. Corey Kent’s parents’ home in Cape Coral Tuesday to raise an American flag in his honor and to break ground on a new addition he’ll soon call home.
The disabled young veteran thanked his community for chipping in to help him get on with his life after he was nearly killed.
“I’m not much of a public speaker but I just wanted everyone to know that I really appreciate all the support I’ve gotten,” he said. “I couldn’t have asked for a more supportive community.”
Kent graduated from Mariner High School in Cape Coral and then joined the Army and was sent to Afghanistan. A year ago, on July 12, he lost both his legs above the knee and part of one hand in an explosion. Since then, the 22-year-old has been recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and learning how to walk on prosthetic legs.
“It’s kind of slow at first but once you get the basics it starts to speed up and you progress faster. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to run eventually but we’ll just see what happens,” he said.
Right now, Kent still spends most of his time in a wheelchair. And, odds are that chair will be with him for some time. So, members of the Cape Coral Construction Industry Association teamed up with the Southwest Florida-based, non-profit U.S. Forces Fund to help.
Todd Gates of Gates Construction is the lead contractor building a 500-square-foot addition valued at $70,000 onto the back of the family’s home.
“We’re trying to achieve some independence for Corey because obviously he’s a grown man needs his own independence but at the same time he’s going to be here with his family….It’s actually a self sustained apartment -- very, very comfortable,” he said.
Kent, along with his mother, Tiffany Ashby, leaves Aug. 7 for more rehabilitation at Walter Reed. Ashby said there’s a long road ahead – but if anyone can do it – her son can.
“There’s a lot of soldiers that are still up in D.C. and they’re going through the same thing and lot of families that are in the same predicament that we are and we just kind of lean each other, and help each other through it,” she said.
Kent will likely spend most of the next year at Walter Reed in rehab – learning to how to use his new legs. He says he’s looking forward to living in his new apartment when he gets home.