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Wounded Veteran Gets Keys To New Ronkonkoma Home

Sgt. Ryan Donnelly, fiance, cut ribbon on the front porch of their new home, built by organization that assists veterans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Six months after breaking ground in the excavated property on Clarendon Drive in Lake Ronkonkoma, Sgt. Ryan Donnelly, and his fiance, Tina McGrory, were handed the keys to a brand new home.

"All I really want to say is just, 'thank you' to everybody who put their time and effort into making this happen," said Donnelly, a three-tour veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who lost his leg to an IED in Fallujah in 2005. "It means a lot to both of us, and without you guys it would have never gotten done."

In a story Patch reported in early June, Donnelly was selected by members of the Suffolk County VFW to be the recipient of the Home Builders Care Development Corp’s “New Home for a Returning Veteran” program. The HBCDC is the charitable arm of the Long Island Builders Institute and works to gather donated land and resources in order to offer a home to a returning Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran at a significantly reduced price.

Newly elected Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine was among the elected officials who took part in the ribbon cutting ceremony.

"This, today, is what America is all about," Romaine said. "It's remembering the people that stood and defended our freedom when it needed defense. This is a day where the words 'God Bless America' does not ring hollow. It's a day where we live up to the promise of our country."

At the ceremony, Donnelly received another surprise when VFW Commander Joe Cognitore announced the donation of an additional $1,500 from the VFW's fund-raising efforts. To cap off the event, Sgt. Donnelly's uncle, Steve, held a ceremonial prayer and gave a blessing on the house.

Donnelly, an apprentice in the plumbers union, heard about the HBCDC’s program while at plumbing school and applied. The organization told attendees at the ribbon cutting that their next home is scheduled to go up in Babylon Village.

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