EDMONTON – It’s been seven years since Sgt. Kevin Nanson was injured by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan. As of Friday, he has a place he can truly call his own.
Nanson and his family are moving back into their home after more than two years of construction, complications, and bureaucratic red tape.
“The other day when they finally took all the boxes away, that’s when it really hit me: It’s happening. We’re finally moving home,” said Nanson at his home in Gibbons, Alta.
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“I can’t even describe how long of a torturous couple of years it’s been. But it’s done and it’s happening. I’m over the moon. I can’t put it into words. It’s incredible.”
In 2008, Nanson was in a truck that was hit by an IED. In the attack, Nanson suffered a traumatic brain injury, multiple skull fractures, and his back was broken in three places. Since the explosion, Nanson has been wheelchair bound, and has had several reconstructive surgeries.
“It’s been a long road,” said Nanson. “A very, very long road.”
After coming home, Nanson qualified for the government’s Home Modifications Benefit. The benefit states that an Armed Forces member is entitled to receive funds for home renovations if “the member sustains a permanent catastrophic impairment.”
The home renovations began in early 2013. Nanson, his wife, and his two youngest daughters moved away to an on-base home at CFB Edmonton while the renovations took place. However, work on the house took much longer than expected.
Issues came up with the first contractor hired by the government to do the work.
“They essentially destroyed my house,” said Nanson. “It was worth nothing.”
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More than $200,000 was paid out to the original contractor, while the home’s move-in date was pushed further and further back.
Nanson asked for a new contractor, but was denied.
To make matters worse, Nanson was originally scheduled to be released from the military on June 30, which would have eliminated his government funding.
In an effort to help out the renovation, local companies and members of the community came out to volunteer time and money for the work.
“We had people offering time, offering services. People offered us what they could,” said Nanson.
“All the way up from major companies offering cement to people in the community saying, ‘I don’t have any skills, but I can swing a hammer.’”
A local contractor even offered to help with some of the renovations.
During construction, Nanson and his family lived in on-base housing at CFB Edmonton, in a home built for disabled veterans. Recently, the Nansons have been staying in hotels, waiting to move back into their home.
Nanson had seen photos of his new home online, but had only been able to visit the finished home recently.
“To come in and see it for yourself, the pictures don’t do it any justice,” he said.
“My little girls have rooms now, and they’re gonna be able to live in a safe environment, and we’re gonna be able to have a house again.”
After getting an extension, Nanson will now officially leave the military on Nov. 27.
Now that work on the house is finished, he and his family will finally have a place to come home to.
“It’s been such a long battle and to know that it’s coming to an end and that we’re going to have a house we can live in… it’s wonderful.”