Air Force veteran gets a handicapped-accessible home after being injured in a skydiving accident

Click here for updates on this story

HARBOR ST. LUCIE, Fla. (WPTV) — A U.S. Air Force pararescue veteran was honored Monday morning in Port St. Lucie when he received a mortgage-free home through the Building Homes For Heroes program.

In 2004, Master Sgt. Francis “Frankie” Reilly served as a jumpmaster in Afghanistan, where he trained and taught the military techniques for jumping from airplanes.

“I told them, ‘Hey, I can’t jump,’ and they told me, ‘We don’t have anyone else,’” Reilly said.

Despite his reservations, he said he nervously jumped out of the plane.

“I jumped and made a mistake as I left the plane. When I let go of the plane, I went head down and went through my parachute,” Reilly said. “When my parachute deployed, my leg was brought back at the knee.”

Retired Master Sgt. Francis Reilly’s new home features a gym, swimming pool and cycling machine.

The injury caused him to tear all the ligaments in his knee, lose all his muscles and severely damage all the nerves in his right leg. He is now paralyzed in his right leg from the knee down.

The veteran was also diagnosed with PTSD and a traumatic brain injury, forcing him to medically retire after 24 years of service.

“I got a grant from the VA when I finally retired in 2018 to build a home for the disabled,” Reilly said.

The grant was $100,000.

“If a contractor found out it was the VA, they wouldn’t call us back,” Reilly said.

Andy Pujol, the CEO and founder of Building Homes for Heroes, speaks about the efforts to save retired US Air Force Master Sgt. Francis Reilly and his family to the new house. The Reillys eventually sold their home on base, but when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, interest rates on homes went up and the former master sergeant couldn’t afford the housing market.

“We brought him to Pulte and we talked about building a house with Pulte with him and for him and his family, and they are so beautiful,” said Andy Pujol, the CEO and founder of Building Homes for Heroes.

Several organizations, such as Building Homes for Heroes and the PulteGroup, worked together to renovate a 2,937-square-foot home with four bedrooms and three bathrooms that are handicapped accessible.

“This was more of a preparation for something else because you don’t know if he’s going to be in three years or 30 years, but he’s going to be part of this community for the next 30 years,” Pujol said.

His home also features a gym, swimming pool and cycling machine.

The cycle means the most to the Air Force veteran, who hopes to qualify for the Olympic Games as a Paralympic cyclist.

“The mental toughness you get from being outside and moving through space at the speed you’re moving,” Reilly said. “It’s almost like jumping out of a plane again.”

Please note: This content is strictly embargoed in the local market. If you share the same market as the contributor of this article, you should not use it on any platform.