United States Marine Ben Kiernan has been selected as the recipient of Design Pro Remodeling’s 2023 Military Home Makeover.
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native, Ben Kiernan is the oldest of 4 siblings. Ben attended Virginia Tech and during his sophomore year in 2006, joined the Marine Corps Reserves. He graduated in 2008.
In 2009 Ben was presented with an opportunity to deploy to Afghanistan, Ben recalled saying, “I’m interested, let’s go”. He deployed in 2010 as a combat engineer, whose main function was to identify improvised explosive devices (IEDs). On September 16th, 2010 while conducting combat operations in Helmend Province, Afghanistan, Ben’s unit was ambushed and Ben was severely wounded by an IED blast.
Ben sustained severe injuries to the right side of his body. He was transported to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD with the challenge of recovery ahead of him.
“It’s those days, sitting in a hospital bed, you have every opportunity to feel sorry for yourself but you can’t allow that to happen. Very early on, I decided that this isn’t going to define me, this isn’t going to be what holds me down.” he said.
For the next few years, Ben encountered lots of sporadic surgeries. To date, Ben has had over 30 surgeries and medical procedures primarily to his right leg. Early on, Ben was told that although doctors would attempt to salvage his leg, he would never be able to walk normally again.
During Ben’s initial recovery, his friend set him up on a blind date in 2013 with his now wife, Leah, who moved from Grand Rapids, Michigan to attend grad school in Washington, D.C. The two became inseparable and Leah was there by his side as an advocate for Ben when it came to exploring options for his injury.
“Ben is one of the most selfless people you will ever meet. Much of what Ben was going through I never knew… he never complained, even when simply going on a walk was really hard… Ben never said it, he did what he could to power through,” said Leah.
Years after the initial injury Ben and Leah were still fighting endlessly to try to resolve the pain.
Ben made the tough decision to amputate his leg, and since doing so, he claims it was one of the best decisions of his life. “The thing in the back of my mind…was if I could barely walk… if this is happening before we even have kids and I know I’m going to need to chase them around and do all the things that you need to do as a parent.” Although Ben continues to face the challenges of physical disability, his perseverance, spirit, and courage are truly unmatched.
Ben can now run, which he was told he would never be able to do again. He is now able to better pursue his hobbies of hiking, hunting, fishing, and camping, more physical activities he was told he could never go back to. He’s motivated today by his children and notes how special it is for him to impart the qualities that he has learned throughout his journey.
Ben currently serves the federal government and despite his own challenges, works with Operation Warfighter to help recovering veterans.
Ben and his wife Leah had their first daughter Madison in 2020 and their second daughter, Michaela in July of 2022. The family moved into their current home in Alexandria, Virginia a few weeks later.
We’re excited to celebrate and give back to a true American hero by delivering Ben and his family updates to their home, and also provide smart accommodations to enable Ben’s accessibility and mobility within the house.
Watch the moment our team shared the news alongside family and friends for the surprise of a lifetime!
SEE THE REVEAL
Our team reviewed nearly 100 nominations and selected the Kiernan Family to receive our Military Home Makeover.
MEET THE KIERNAN’SOur team surprised Ben and his family and sat down together to learn more about their remodeling goals.
With your help, we raised more than $50,000 through the support of sponsors, local partnerships, and donations.
Our team finalized project plans with the Kiernan family in June and completed the remodel 8 weeks later.
DP Reimagined is a nonprofit foundation providing remodeling services within our community for families in need. We believe success starts in the home, and by doing our part, we can help families to thrive. Together, with the support of sponsors, local partnerships and donations, we can achieve this mission.