To honor our nation’s greatest heroes, the Tunnel to Towers Foundation has delivered 35 mortgage-free homes to 35 Gold Star families for Veterans Day.

A Gold Star family includes the immediate family member(s) of a service member who died during a time of conflict.

Additionally, this Veterans Day the foundation held a name reading ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial. Volunteers read the names of all 7,070 American service members who have died since September 11, 2001 – with the last 13 names being those who were killed in the Kabul airport attack earlier this year.

On November 11, Tunnel to Towers paid off or provided mortgage-free homes to the families of:

  • 15 U.S. Army soldiers
  • 14 U.S. Navy sailors
  • 4 U.S. Marines
  • 1 Air Force Captain
  • 1 Major in the North Carolina Air National Guard

One of the Gold Star families Tunnel to Towers helped was Aisha DeYoung, wife of the late U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant Matthew James DeYoung, and their daughter, McKenzy. Sergeant DeYoung was killed in Afghanistan on February 18, 2011, by an improvised explosive device (IED).

After receiving the gift from Tunnel to Towers, Aisha told NewsWatch12, “Matthew loved his daughter, McKenzy, more than anything. He was the best, most attentive father! … He was the glue to our family and just as good of a big brother.”

“What the Tunnels to Towers Foundation does for Gold Star families is beyond helpful … I appreciate the Tunnels to Towers Foundation for not forgetting the families of the ones who sacrificed everything.”

Tunnel to Towers CEO and Chairman Frank Siller told NewsWatch12, “This Veterans Day, we’re honoring the inspiring Americans who sprang into action to take the fight to our enemies and protect our homeland in the wake of September 11th.”

“We’re eternally grateful to the fallen heroes of the Global War on Terror and their families who live every day with the reminder of the sacrifice of their loved one. As a small thank you to the DeYoung family, we’re paying off their mortgage, ensuring they’ll always have a place to call home.”

To date, the Tunnel to Towers Foundation has raised over $250 million to support veterans and Gold Star families. The foundation has 450 mortgage-free homes delivered or preparing to be delivered.

In a recent press release, Tunnels to Towers said that 2021 marks the 20th anniversary of the organization. “To celebrate its anniversary Tunnel to Towers promised to deliver 200 homes across its programs” just this year.

On September 11, 2001, New York Fire Department firefighter Stephen Siller gave his life trying to rescue those trapped in the Twin Towers. Tunnel to Towers was founded in his honor by Stephen’s brother, Frank Siller.

In a recent interview with Tucker Carlson, Frank said, “20 years ago, our youngest brother, a firefighter, Stephen Gerard Siller, gave up his life. He ran through the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel with 60 pounds of fire gear on his back to get to the towers, going up the stairs, saving other people, and while doing so he gave up his life.”

Another Gold Star family that just had their mortgage paid off by Tunnel to Towers was that of Navy Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Ryan Lohrey, who was killed on July 10, 2017.

Lohrey’s wife, Cassie, said that when she found out her home had been paid off, the feeling was “surreal.”

“I was in utter shock and disbelief that we were receiving this opportunity,” she added. “It allows me to focus on my daughter. I can spend more time on educating and raising her to be the best possible person she can be. I am very grateful for the Tunnel to Towers foundation and all of the donors that made this miracle happen for us.”

To learn more about the work of the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, click here.

Related resources:

Helping Military Families

Combat Veterans and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Resources: Military Issues

Photo from Tunnel to Towers.