Kevin Honaker, a Sparta native, has been making the most of what life has handed him and is ready to return home to where he grew up.
Thanks to a program called Homes For Our Troops, that might be just a little easier for the medically-retired U.S. Marine.
Honaker is a double amputee who was injured in September 2011 when he stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED) while on deployment, in Afghanistan. The injury ended what turned out to be a very short military career for the young Honaker who, inspired by various family members who had served as members of the United States military, had enlisted right after high school.
Lance Cpl. Kevin Honaker officially became an engineer with the 4th Combat Engineer Battalion and headed to Afghanistan for his first deployment just a few short weeks before the event that would change his life forever.
Honaker said the day his life changed started like most of his days during his short time in Afghanistan, and he was on a normal patrol like others he had done before.
“We just missed one,” he said of the IED he stepped on. “My buddies did a good job of coming to get me and get the tourniquets on. Me, I didn’t want to look. I didn’t want to know how bad it was. I just kept my eyes closed.”
Those eyes stayed closed for a week, and, when LCpl Kevin Honaker opened them, he was back in the United States with his father. His father confirmed to Honaker that he had been asleep for a week, and that he had stayed by his son’s side during that entire week. Over the next year, Honaker underwent 12 surgeries at Walter Reed Medical Center and learned to walk and maneuver his way through life with the use of prosthetic legs.
After leaving Walter Reed Medical Center and determined to be a contributing member of society, Honaker obtained a degree in agricultural business from Tennessee Technological University before completing electrician school and opening a business in which he provides lighting to movie and television production sets in the Atlanta area.
“When I was in college, my apartment was up some stairs, so that was difficult, but I did it every day,” Honaker said as he recalled some of the difficulties he has faced over the past 10 years.
Despite all of the progress he has made and a strong sense of determination to be independent and live life fully, Honaker still has many daily tasks that are inconvenient and challenging. Currently, living in Atlanta, Honaker’s home is too small for his wheelchair, forcing him to wear his prosthetics all day. Not only do the long hours of not being able to rest cause a great deal of discomfort to the retired Marine, but he cannot access the bathroom adequately, making showering a difficult task.
This is where Homes For Our Troops is stepping in. The nonprofit organization is helping to build a specially adapted custom home with hallways and doorways that will be wide enough for Honaker to use his wheelchair when home, alleviating much of the stress he is currently putting on his body. Additionally, the home, which is estimated to take six to nine months to complete, will have a roll-in shower and other accommodations that will mitigate many of the concerns he has in his current home.
The new Homes For Our Troops house, which will also not come with stairs, keeping everything on one level, will give Honaker back much of his freedom and independence.
“Having a house with everything on one level, wide enough for my chair, to be able to wheel into the shower - it would be helpful. It would allow me to focus on my business,” Honaker said. “If I have a family someday, it would help me be able to get around with them, too. There’s not even words to say enough thank-yous. It is unbelievable.”
Homes For Our Troops, whose mission is to build and donate custom homes for severely injured post-911 veterans across the country and enable them to rebuild their lives, will be hosting a Community Kickoff at 9:30 a.m., Oct. 23, 2021, at Christpoint Church, on Liberty Square, in Sparta. The kick-off will signify the official start of the build process and reintroduce Honaker to the community he hopes to immerse himself in as he comes back home to stay.
“The event is also an opportunity for people to learn more about Homes For Our Troops and how they can get involved with Kevin’s project,” Teresa Verity, a marketing associate with Homes For Our Troops, said, adding that groundbreaking was scheduled for the first week of October (weather permitting).
As for Honaker, he said he will be forever grateful to everyone who is helping with the project, especially of those who are donating to and sponsoring the build.
“If they were in the room, I would tell the donors that their money is doing great things. It is going to the mission,” he said. “Not only for me, but It is doing great things for these families. It is awesome to see families with their kids and being able to care for them [in homes built] through this program.”
Homes For Our Troops claims that 90 cents of every dollar donated goes directly to the build of its homes for veterans.
To get involved in the Lance Cpl. Kevin Honaker project, to donate to the build, or to get more information, visit https://www.hfotusa.org/building-homes/veterans/honaker/. Additionally, the Homes For Our Troops organization is asking that community members use the same link to register to attend the Kickoff Event.
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