INDEPENDENCE, Ky. -- Organizers say more than 500 people are gathering at 2 p.m. Monday in the William Woods subdivision to present the keys to an accessible home to retired Staff Sgt. Paul Brondhaver, who was severely wounded in 2004 in Iraq.
Country Icon Lee Greenwood will be on hand to sing "God Bless the USA" and Senator Rand Paul and his wife Kelley will present SSG Brondhaver with the keys to his new home. Helping a Hero designed the 2,700-square-foot home that is accessible on the first floor with wider doors, a roll-in shower, a roll-under sink and other safety features.
Monday's ceremony will feature a mini parade led by the Independence Middle School Band, a group of children leading the Pledge of Allegiance and color guard assembled from local fire and police stations. The public is invited to line the route to the home at 10669 Windbrook Court as Brondhaver and his three children get their new keys.
HelpingaHero.org is a national charity that has awarded over 100 homes in 22 states to severely wounded warriors injured in the Global War on Terror. This is the third Kentucky home and the first in the Northern Kentucky area presented by the charity.
Organizers ask the public to wear red, white and blue and join them for the celebration. They also ask the public to consider bringing a gift card to be added to the community basket for the family.
Brondhaver is blessed to have had many mentors, friends and supporters who have invested in his life throughout his road to recovery. Congressman Brad Wenstrup has known Brondhaver through the ups and downs of his recovery and rehabilitation and will be there to support him as he begins this next chapter of his life. Gold Star Dad, John Prazynski, has been a mentor and friend to Brondhaver after losing his son, Marine Corporal Taylor Prazynski, to an IED blast in 2005.
As the charity has prepared for this welcome home ceremony, it wants to thank the Coalition to Salute America's Heroes for funding housewarming gifts like a refrigerator and garage door openers. Mayor Chris Reinersman and the city of Independence have secured lawn care for a year.
Brondhaver grew up in Ohio and joined the Army at age 17. Paul spent 21 years in the military and served in Honduras, Germany, Panama, Kuwait, and Iraq. He deployed multiple times to Iraq with the 216th Combat Engineer Unit and the 1st Infantry Division.
In 2004, Paul was on combat patrol in Summara, just north of Baghdad, when they were attacked with small arms fire and a rocket propelled grenade that exploded near his Humvee. Brondhaver's body was riddled with over 300 pieces of metal shrapnel in the attack. One of the hardest things he experienced that day was holding his fellow soldier who died from the attack in his arms.
Brondhaver credits the Lord, his fellow soldiers, prayer, GE Aviation and the military for saving his life. His injuries include hearing loss, severe nerve damage, a traumatic brain injury and severe PTSD. Brondhaver's health has deteriorated in recent years due to the remaining shrapnel in his abdomen, and he now finds himself needing a cane to walk and often needing a wheelchair while at home.
Brondhaver has a passion to serve others as evidenced in the military and now as a private citizen. He has been a Red Cross volunteer and instructor for 31 years, has started a companion dog charity and regularly helps veteran's charities in their quest to serve more veterans. He is a proud father of three and is a permanent fixture on the sidelines at the Bengals games. He said he looks forward to living in Independence and is proud to be a part of such a patriotic community.