Freedom: Lost and Found

A Story About Freedom

When Anya Francis chose to join the U.S. Navy Reserves in 2013, she had no idea a tragic accident would limit her freedom and change her life.


While working on a cargo battalion, Anya lost her footing and fell off a 27-foot-high crane. The results were catastrophic: a dislocated neck and a broken rib, back and shoulder blade. Conscious following the fall, Anya recalled her fear and gratitude – both from her pain and relief of being alive.


When she awoke from the hospital, she was told that she was now paralyzed from the chest down. The months following were spent in various rehabilitation clinics as Anya worked tirelessly to regain some of her muscle memory and physical strength. The most challenging piece to Anya’s puzzle, however, was learning to live without the use of her legs.


Anya was awarded only a limited set of funds from the Specially Adapted Housing Grant that is run by Veteran Affairs. This left her with many modifications still needed in order to regain her independence.

Luckily, a program started by the Gary Sinise Foundation was ready to help. Anya became one of the 57 (and counting) recipients of R.I.S.E. (Restoring Independence and Supporting Empowerment). The program builds smart homes, home modifications and mobility devices to increase accessibility for injured veterans and first responders.


With a date for construction set for later this year, Anya’s home will go through many renovations; and so will she. While the loss of her legs seemed unfathomable at first, Anya has started to learn how to live a fulfilled life without them.


“I learned how to get on different equipment. We took trips to the airport to learn how to travel and board a plane. We went to the supermarket and learned how to shop.”


Now, her hard work has started to pay off, as she plans on taking her first trip in her chair to the Florida Keys soon. As for what else her future has in store, Anya Francis says it best herself:


“I’ll have my freedom back.”


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