Never losing faith
Despite his injuries, Mr. Levi's hope never vanished. He says it actually became stronger since that fateful day.
In March 2008, Mr. Levi was stationed in Iraq as an Army Ranger with the 10th Mountain Division. What seemed like a routine day in the war-embattled nation quickly turned disastrous when an improvised explosive device (IED) hit the armored Humvee in which he was a passenger.
Emergency surgery saved his life, but he lost his legs and sustained substantial injuries to his arm and hand.
Mr. Levi spent nearly two years at Walter Reed National Medical Center in Washington, DC, which cares for military members who have endured traumatic injuries. He then returned to Long Island and his parent's house in Holbrook, where he and his family were embraced with community support, including the organizations that pitched in to construct his new home.
"I'm proud to be an American. And I'm proud to be a New Yorker. And I'm very proud to be a Long Islander," said Mr. Levi, who received the Purple Heart among other military awards for his service. "When I came home from Iraq, my family surrounded me. Then Holbrook surrounded my family. Then Suffolk County supported us.
"They are not doing it for a means. They aren't doing it for a margin. They are doing it because it is the right thing to do."