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BUILDING FOR AMERICA'S BRAVEST

Bo Reichenbach, second from left, with Jack Oehm, Paola Tornabene, and Mayor Tom Hanel.
Created on Thursday, 03 July 2014 16:05 By STEPHEN DOW - The Billings Outpost

Billings native and double-amputee Navy SEAL Bo Reichenbach celebrated the groundbreaking for his new smart home last week with approximately 50 other attendees, including his family and Billings Mayor Tom Hanel.

“It really means a lot to our family to be able to have this,” Reichenbach said. “It’s pretty tough for me because I have trouble asking for help and I love doing everything myself. But it really means a lot that we can have this for our family and that I can be back here in Montana. Thank you all for being here and supporting our family.”

Reichenbach’s house will be built on 120 acres on a hill surrounded by mountains near Lockwood. He will share the house with his wife, Lacy, and 6-year-old son, Landon.

Seven months into his deployment in Afghanistan, Reichenbach stepped on a 20-pound Improvised Explosive Device. He lost both of his legs. He also severely injured his right arm and sustained hearing loss in both ears.

Reichenbach has since undergone more than 30 surgeries and was released last month from the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland.

He will retire from the Navy next month and receive the Bronze Star – one of the highest honors in the American military.

The smart home will be built by Reichenbach Construction, which is owned by Bo’s father, Don. Reichenbach will be part of the construction team on the project, which is expected to be finished by this fall.

The smart house will feature accommodations to make independent living easier. These include automated doors and lighting, wider doors and special showers to accommodate a wheelchair, cabinets and counters that can be raised and lowered and central heating and air conditioning systems that can be controlled by iPads.

Mayor Hanel was the first of several speakers at the ceremony and used his time on stage to express his appreciation for Reichenbach and all members of the American military.

“There is one thing that all of us here have in common,” Hanel said. “Bo, we love you. And we not only love you, but we respect you, your family, your sacrifice and all your brothers and sisters in the military.”

Mayor Hanel continued, “It’s because of men and women like you that we have the freedom we have today. Thank you to all the members of the military of yesterday, today and tomorrow for all the sacrifices you’ve made.”

Other speakers also emphasized the importance of the military during the hour-long ceremony.

“These young men and women give so much of themselves and sacrificed their bodies for us to be free,” said Jack Ohem of Tunnels to Towers. “In my mind, this is the least that we can do for these young men and women that sacrificed so much for us.”

He continued, “Too many people in this country of ours take for granted what our military does for us day in and day out. We honor those who can shoot a basket or hit a golf ball, but we forget about our veterans coming home that are catastrophically injured.”

Teamwork was another common theme addressed in the speeches.

“My wife, Robin, and I both come from military families, and we’ve both lost family members during times of conflict,” said Hanel. “It’s not easy. And it’s not easy when our family comes home and they’re injured. But we can overcome by working together and supporting each other.”

Ohem echoed that sentiment. “Nothing gets done without a team,” he said.

Indeed, the groundbreaking was made possible by the efforts of a large team of organizations and businesses. The Reichenbachs received a $400,000 grant from the Tunnels to Towers Foundation and a $50,000 grant from the Semper Fi Fund.

Other businesses, such as Carpet 1, will donate materials to the project. The Phoenix Patriot Foundation, which co-hosted the event with Tunnels to Towers, also contributed money to the project.

The Tunnel to Towers Foundation works to honor the memory of New York firefighter Stephen Siller, who died on Sept. 11, 2001. The foundation does this through such projects as an annual Tunnel to Towers Run at Ground Zero in New York City. In 2011, the organization began the “Building for America’s Bravest” program, which has built 23 smart homes for critically injured veterans.

The Phoenix Patriot Foundation was started by former Navy SEAL Jerry Ogden in 2010 with the purpose of helping wounded veterans.

“When we heard Bo’s story, Jerry made it very clear to the board that this would be a top priority for us,” said PPF board member Blake Bectal. “Immediately, we started discussing the vision for his home.”

The Semper Fi Fund has given more than 11,800 grants to injured military members over the last 10 years. These have included grants for hospital care, college education, adaptive vehicles and adaptive housing.

According to Bectal, one of the most important contributors to the process has been the city of Billings itself.

“The overwhelming support has been humbling to all,” he said. “The Billings community has been a true example for all their local men and womenin the military. Thankfully, we’ve be able to share that today. You’ve all been tremendous.”

Click for original story on The Billings Outpost.

Billings Gazette

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GROUPS COME TOGETHER TO FUND SMART HOME FOR INJURED NAVY SEAL

June 21, 2014 4:51 pm  •  

On a high, grassy hill in Lockwood that boasts a panoramic view of five mountain ranges, Bo Reichenbach will soon rebuild another part of his life.

Reichenbach, a U.S. Navy SEAL who lost his legs to a makeshift bomb in Afghanistan in 2012, joined a crowd of people Saturday afternoon on the hill to celebrate the groundbreaking for his future home.

Construction will begin soon, and the house is expected to be done by this fall. Reichenbach Construction, owned by Bo's dad, Don Reichenbach, will be the general contractor on the project and Bo will be part of the team.

Reichenbach, 26, will share the home with his wife, Lacy, and their son, Landon, 6. The house will sit on 120 acres where, on a clear day, the family will enjoy a view of the Bull Mountains, the Beartooths, the Pryors, the Snowies and the Crazies, as well as the Billings area.

The smart home, which will make independent living easier, is possible thanks to hefty donations, including a $400,000 grant from the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation in New York City. Another $50,000 came from the Semper Fi Fund, and other businesses will donate materials and labor to the house.

The groundbreaking ceremony was co-hosted by the New York foundation and the Phoenix Patriot Foundation, which supports Reichenbach and other critically wounded veterans. Family, friends and project donors also were on hand for the invitation-only event that included a barbecue, the "Star Spangled Banner" and fireworks.

For all that Reichenbach has done for his country, building a home for him and his family is a small way to say thanks, said Jack Oehm, a retired battalion chief with the Fire Department of New York and director of the Tunnel to Towers Sandy Rebuild Program.

“This is the least we can do for these young men and women that sacrificed so much for us,” said Oehm, one of several people who spoke at the ceremony.

Reichenbach returned to Montana in May after nearly two years and more than 20 medical procedures at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda. He walks now with the use of two prosthetic legs.

Blake Bechtel, of the Phoenix Patriot Foundation, shared details of Reichenbach’s life with the crowd. Reichenbach enlisted in the U.S. Navy in March 2008 and became a SEAL in May 2010.

He deployed to Afghanistan on Jan. 1, 2012, Bechtel said. Seven months into the deployment, on July 17, 2012, Reichenbach stepped on a 20-pound improvised explosive device and lost both his legs above the knee.

His right arm also was severely injured, and he sustained a hearing loss in both ears.

Reichenbach will retire from the Navy in a ceremony in July. There, he will be awarded the Bronze star of Valor, one of the nation’s highest honors.

“After retiring from the Navy, he will return home to Billings, where he will return to working alongside his dad at the Reichenbach Construction Co. and enjoy raising his family on this beautiful property,” Bechtel said.

He explained that former U.S. Navy SEAL Jared Ogden started the Phoenix Patriot Foundation in 2010. A year before, a close friend and fellow SEAL had lost both legs to an IED.

Ogden saw the types of support that helped his friend, and also saw needs that went unmet. So he left the Navy and started the nonprofit.

When Reichenbach suffered injuries nearly akin to those Ogden’s friend had sustained, Ogden made Reichenbach’s care a top priority.

“Immediately we started discussing the vision for his home and seeing whatever we could do to support him,” Bechtel said.

Janine Cante of the Semper Fi Fund said Reichenbach is one of many people Semper Fi has been able to help since its creation in 2004. The fund has given about 11,800 grants to service members and their families, totaling $92 million, to help with family support at the hospital, vehicle grants and especially adaptive-housing grants.

“I wanted to thank Bo for his service to our great nation and just wish him years of happiness in this soon-to-be constructed home,” Cante said.

Paola Tornabene, vice president for corporate affairs for Tunnels to Towers, explained that the foundation’s mission is to honor the legacy of Stephen Siller a New York City firefighter who perished on Sept. 11, 2001.

“Our goal is to honor Stephen by providing continued support to first responders and to military heroes,” she said.

Part of that work is done through the Building for America’s Bravest program, Tornabene said. That program, she said, helps construct “specially adapted custom designed smart homes which feature unique designs and advanced technology to allow our nation’s catastrophically injured service members to lead independent lives.”

Oehm added that too many people in the U.S. take for granted what military men and women do for their country day in and day out, he said.

“We honor those who can shoot a basket, who can hit a golf ball, who can run fast and jump high, and meanwhile we forget about our veterans coming home that are catastrophically injured,” Oehm said. “So what our foundation does is to honor their sacrifice and to remember Stephen’s sacrifice on that day.”

When Bo Reichenbach came to the microphone, he grew emotional when he spoke of his thanks for the home and all the support he has received.

“I just want to say thank you," he said, pausing a moment. "It means a lot to our family to be able to have this."

Afterward, he thanked his family “for always being there and supporting me.” Don Reichenbach shut down his business for six months in the beginning to go and stay with his son, Bo Reichenbach said.

Building a house has always been a dream of his, he added.

“I am afforded the opportunity sooner than I wanted to, but due to the circumstances this is where we’re at today and we’re happy to be able to build our own home now,” he said.

Father and son embraced after the groundbreaking. The two have worked together ever since Bo was 12 years old, Don Reichenbach said.

During his time at the hospital with Bo, Don said the two looked forward to what would come next.

“That’s all we talked about is we can still do everything that we want to do, we just do it a little differently,” he said. “And so we’re gonna get this house built for him.”

 

Click for original story on Billings Gazette.

The Washington Times

Veterans seek challenge from Kilimanjaro

By ROBERTA MacGINNIS  |  Associated Press  |  Sunday, April 13, 2014

From left to right, Bo Reichenbach, 26, U.S. Navy special operations second class and active duty Navy SEAL, poses with Will Cannon, 26, a Houstonian and retired U.S. Army former 19 Delta at the Hyatt Regency-Houston Downtown Friday, April 4, 2014, in Houston. The two will be part of a team climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro this year, in a trip sponsored by the grass-roots nonprofit Phoenix Patriot Foundation. Reichenbach lost both of his legs when he was critically injured by an improvised explosive device on July 17, 2012 in Afghanistan. Cannon suffers from PTSD and a compressed spine, and is a recent cancer survivor, but he is doing the trip to assist Reichenbach. (AP Photo/Houston Chronicle,  Johnny Hanson )

HOUSTON

 (AP) - 

Will Cannon

, a former sergeant in the Army’s special operations force, misses his brothers-in-arms, the “modern-day Vikings” who had his back whenever he kicked in a door searching for the enemy in Afghanistan or Iraq.

They shared the wear and tear war inflicts on its soldiers and understood his survivor’s guilt when his best friend died of blood loss after an explosion blasted his right leg off.

“I never had to worry about failing because the guy on my left and the guy on my right wouldn’t allow it,” the 26-year-old Houstonian told the Houston Chronicle (http://bit.ly/1hmxu5C).

After he left the Army, Cannon was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Last year, he underwent eight weeks of daily radiation, and, he said, he hit an all-time low.

Now he’s trying to get back on top. The cancer survivor will be on a team of veterans helping two double-above-the-knee-amputee Navy SEALs climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania this fall. The trip is being organized by the Phoenix Patriot Foundation, which works with severely injured veterans to help them “return to a life of service,” founder Jared Ogden said.

The other amputee on the trip will be Dan Cnossen, one of Ogden’s former platoon leaders and the inspiration for the Phoenix Patriot Foundation.

Ogden, a former Navy SEAL, says the nonprofit organization fulfills an overlooked niche in veterans’ assistance by creating a meaningful, lasting connection with each individual in its program.

“We work in small numbers, like SEALs,” Ogden said. “I don’t want to take 100 people to a baseball game and talk to just five of them.”

The group organizes adventure challenges to re-create the bond military brotherhood engenders. The foundation has taken veterans on jet ski trips from Key West, Fla., to New York and organized pit crews of veterans for off-road races in Mexico’s Baja California. The group will host a gala kickoff fund-raiser for the Kilimanjaro trip at the Houston Club on Saturday night. It hopes to raise at least $15,000 toward the estimated $50,000 cost of the trip.

But the trips are only the start. Ogden says the foundation tries to identify what each veteran would truly like to accomplish with the rest of his or her life and then tries to make it happen. It’s currently helping former Navy SEAL Bo Reichenbach, who lost both legs in Afghanistan, realize his dream of building a ranch in his hometown, Billings, Mont., which would be open not only to the public but also offer special services for wounded veterans. Reichenbach hopes to return to Billings soon; he has spent the past 20 months undergoing 35 surgeries at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

“You develop that trust with the person individually and figure out what they want to do next,” Ogden said.

Cannon, a sales rep for an oil and gas company, decided to get involved after meeting Ogden in a bar at an industry conference in San Antonio.

“We are, in our minds, 10 feet tall and bullet proof. We are men,” Cannon said. “So whenever one of us gets hurt - loses his legs for instance - and we come home, you know, and what do we do? What are we supposed to do? At one point I was leading men into battle, and now I can’t even walk.”

Cannon said the Phoenix Patriot Foundation’s mission of discovering veterans’ passions intrigued him.

“A lot of these nonprofits do a great job in finding job placements for these guys, but to have a Navy SEAL behind a cash register someplace, it’s degrading to them. They may not show it or say it, but inside they’re dying.”

After Cannon agreed to organize the Houston fundraiser, he discovered something unexpected.

“I thought I was helping them, but what I didn’t realize is that they were helping me,” he said.

Cannon said he has struggled emotionally since his friend, Dan Croft, was killed, just 17 days before their deployment ended in January 2010. The pair had planned to go into business together, but instead, Cannon attended Croft’s funeral on his own birthday, Jan. 23. Cannon also suffers chronic pain from a compressed spine and nerve damage in his back, as well as fractured sinus cavities. Some days, he said, he feels like he’s 50, not 26. “I look at Bo … and all of them, and I see that there’s something bigger out there than me just feeling sorry for myself,” he said.

Cannon’s role during the climb will be to assist Reichenbach, not that he expects Reichenbach to need much help.

“He’s a Navy SEAL. Even if he needs help, he’s not going to ask for it. I see me not having to help him whatsoever, because his drive and his passion for this is incredibly strong.”

Reichenbach agrees.

“I’m proving to myself that I’m still capable of doing things that most people can’t do, even though I’m missing both legs from above my knees.”

___

Information from: Houston Chronicle, http://www.houstonchronicle.com

___

Click for original link to The Washington Times.

Houston Chronicle

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Veterans hope to get back on top - climbing Mount Kilimanjaro

 Bo Reichenbach, left, and Will Cannon, right, are veterans who will climb Mount Kilimanjaro, backed by the foundation led by Jared Ogden, center.

By Roberta MacInnis April 4, 2014 | Updated: April 4, 2014 8:47pm Will Cannon, a former sergeant in the Army's special operations force, misses his brothers-in-arms, the "modern-day Vikings" who had his back whenever he kicked in a door searching for the enemy in Afghanistan or Iraq. They shared the wear and tear war inflicts on its soldiers and understood his survivor's guilt when his best friend died of blood loss after an explosion blasted his right leg off.

After he left the Army, Cannon was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Last year, he underwent eight weeks of daily radiation, and, he said, he hit an all-time low. Now he's trying to get back on top. The cancer survivor will be on a team of veterans helping two double-above-the-knee-amputee Navy SEALs climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania this fall. The trip is being organized by the Phoenix Patriot Foundation, which works with severely injured veterans to help them "return to a life of service," founder Jared Ogden said.

Ogden, a former Navy SEAL, says the nonprofit organization fulfills an overlooked niche in veterans' assistance by creating a meaningful, lasting connection with each individual in its program.

"We work in small numbers, like SEALs," Ogden said. "I don't want to take 100 people to a baseball game and talk to just five of them."

The group organizes adventure challenges to re-create the bond military brotherhood engenders. The foundation has taken veterans on jet ski trips from Key West, Fla., to New York and organized pit crews of veterans for off-road races in Mexico's Baja California. The group will host a gala kickoff fund-raiser for the Kilimanjaro trip at the Houston Club on Saturday night. It hopes to raise at least $15,000 toward the estimated $50,000 cost of the trip.

Individual goals

But the trips are only the start. Ogden says the foundation tries to identify what each veteran would truly like to accomplish with the rest of his or her life and then tries to make it happen. It's currently helping former Navy SEAL Bo Reichenbach, who lost both legs in Afghanistan, realize his dream of building a ranch in his hometown, Billings, Mont., which would be open not only to the public but also offer special services for wounded veterans. Reichenbach hopes to return to Billings soon; he has spent the past 20 months undergoing 35 surgeries at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

"You develop that trust with the person individually and figure out what they want to do next," Ogden said.

Cannon, a sales rep for an oil and gas company, decided to get involved after meeting Ogden in a bar at an industry conference in San Antonio.

"We are, in our minds, 10 feet tall and bullet proof. We are men," Cannon said. "So whenever one of us gets hurt, loses his legs, for instance, and we come home, you know, and what do we do? What are we supposed to do? At one point I was leading men into battle, and now I can't even walk."

Cannon said the Phoenix Patriot Foundation's mission of discovering veterans' passions intrigued him.

"A lot of these nonprofits do a great job in finding job placements for these guys, but to have a Navy SEAL behind a cash register someplace, it's degrading to them. They may not show it or say it, but inside they're dying."

After Cannon agreed to organize the Houston fundraiser, he discovered something unexpected.

"I thought I was helping them, but what I didn't realize is that they were helping me," he said.

Cannon said he has struggled emotionally since his friend, Dan Croft, was killed, just 17 days before their deployment ended in January 2010. The pair had planned to go into business together, but instead, Cannon attended Croft's funeral on his own birthday, Jan. 23. Cannon also suffers chronic pain from a compressed spine and nerve damage in his back, as well as fractured sinus cavities. Some days, he said, he feels like he's 50, not 26. "I look at Bo ... and all of them, and I see that there's something bigger out there than me just feeling sorry for myself," he said.

Self-reliance on display

Cannon's role during the climb will be to assist Reichenbach, not that he expects Reichenbach to need much help.

"He's a Navy SEAL. Even if he needs help, he's not going to ask for it. I see me not having to help him whatsoever, because his drive and his passion for this is incredibly strong."

Reichenbach agrees.

"I'm proving to myself that I'm still capable of doing things that most people can't do, even though I'm missing both legs from above my knees."

The other amputee on the trip will be Dan Cnossen, one of Ogden's former platoon leaders and the inspiration for the Phoenix Patriot Foundation.

Houston Benefit for Mount Kilimanjaro
When: 6 p.m. Saturday
Where: The Houston Club, One Shell Plaza, 910 Louisiana
Tickets: $75, sponsorships available; phoenixpatriotfoundation.org or at the door.Click for original article in Houston Chronicle.

740AM KTRH HOUSTON

Houston Benefit for Mount Kilimanjaro

Posted Friday, April 4th 2014 @ 5am by KTRH’s Nikki Courtney

Will Cannon is going to climb a mountain. He needs your help. The Houston Benefit for Mount Kilimanjaro. More on that in a minute.

The Houston native is a military veteran, having been a 19 Delta and part of a special platoon privately trained for Special Operations, including High Valued Target Mission and Time Sensitive Targets. Will Cannon served in Iraq and Afghanistan, twice, and Korea, which he says was his worst tour of duty. Leaving the military with a 70% disability rating he did not know the greatest challenges were still ahead. The agony of PTSD would haunt Cannon, and a diagnosis of Seminoma Cancer. There was a surgery and six weeks of treatment just this year. If anyone could make a good argument for Depression, it was an argument Cannon was ready to make.

Until sitting at a bar one night and meeting Jared Ogden, founder and CEO of a 501(c)(3) called the Phoenix Patriot Foundation and a member of the cast of National Geographic Channel’s “Ultimate Survival Alaska.” Funny how the right people turn up at just the right moment in your life. Learning of Will’s military background, Jared talked him into joining a group Ogden was putting together that was planning to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest free-standing mountain in the world, in East Africa.

Two former Navy SEALS are in the group, Bo Reichenbach and Dan Cnossen, both double amputees, both from IED’s, who will make the trek with the assistance of robot prosthetics. Top Outdoor expert Sean Burch, also a cast member on “Ultimate Survival Alaska,” will lead the group up by way of the Machame route.

“Dan said ‘Jared, I want to climb Mount Kilimanjaro on my own two legs. And I want to show the guys that set up that bomb that they can’t stop me, and I also want to show other service members and other Americans with disabilities that they can do anything,’” Jared remembers in his conversation with KTRH News. That brings us to the Houston Benefit for Mount Kilimanjaro.

This is where you come in. Saturday, April 5 a fundraiser will be hosted at the Houston Club, One Shell Plaza, 49th Floor, 910 Louisiana Street, from 6-10pm. You are invited. Drinks are free for the first hour. The amazing work that Jared Ogden and his associates at Phoenix Patriot Foundation is worth your consideration, and the challenges that lie ahead for the former military service members are worthy of your respect.

Houston native Will Cannon says no one was aware of the demons he was battling when he signed on for the project, and they didn’t become fully aware to him until he began focusing on his diet, physical and mental stamina, and the goals that would be required to make it to the top of the mountain. His advice for returning service members – focus on the most important things: family, friends and faith.

“So they can show the world, their family, the enemy, you may have nicked me, but I’m gonna keep on chuggin’, keep on moving. So just keep focused on something else, something other than your problems, something bigger than yourself,” Cannon says.

Climbing the mountains life throws in your path – takes family, friends and faith.

Click for original article on KTRH website.