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Howard County veteran's home renovated by Tunnel to Towers Foundation

Posted at 5:27 PM, Nov 14, 2023

ELLICOTT CITY, Md. — There was a round of applause as Navy Commander Teddy Tan made his way down the wheelchair-accessible ramp. It's a brand new fixture of his Ellicott City home.

"The home you see behind us is not just a physical structure, but a symbol of our gratitude and admiration for commander's tan dedication and service to our country," said retired FDNY Battalion Chief and Tunnel to Towers volunteer, Charlie Gussman.

"Thank you for the support we've been getting from the tunnel to towers foundation. It's the best ever," Commander Tan said.

Tunnel to Towers is a nonprofit that provides mortgage-free homes, and renovates homes for injured veterans.

Commander Tan moved to the U.S. from the Philippines when he was just 23, and enlisted in the navy right away to earn his American citizenship. He served his country for more than three decades. In 2022, doctors discovered he had contracted an illness that triggered a rare auto-immune response that attacked his brain and left him in a wheelchair.

But his home wasn't adapted to be handicap-accessible - until now.

Commander Tan's sons Kai and Taylor did the honors, cutting the ribbon as the family was introduced to their newly renovated home.

The commander was all smiles as he took a tour and explored some of the new features - features that will allow him to reclaim some of his day-to-day independence.

He can control the lights, thermostat, and security system with the click of a button, thanks to smart technology.

"I think with the smart home I'm able to move about and control the devices when necessary from my phone," Commander Tan said.

"It allows him to gain freedom of movement. By himself he can go out the door whenever he wants - it automatically opens. He's able to raise and lower the blinds and things like that. It's just a really fantastic space for him to have," said his wife, Laura.

Tunnel to Towers also paid off the mortgage. Now the family can make this their forever home.

"We'll be growing roots here. We'll be here forever. And our kids will graduate from high school here, and that's what matters," Laura said.