Veteran Stories: The Story of William Ivey
Navy Vet, Stroke Victim Grateful for HOHCT’s Help
There was nothing particularly extraordinary about William Ivey’s long, late-night drive home to Glastonbury from his second-shift job as a Submarine Technician with Electric Boat in Groton in the wee hours of Sunday morning, March 4 of 2018. As a then-38-year-old father of two young children, William appreciated the opportunity to work some overtime, and while the Saturday night shift was no picnic, the extra cash was welcome.
Long hours, though, can make one weary, so the headache William developed while driving home that night was not surprising. A U.S. Navy veteran, William knew that a sailor is only as good as his last good night’s sleep, so he immediately bunked down upon arriving home, hoping the headache would ease.
It did not. William awoke that Sunday with the realization that his headache had signaled a much deeper problem – he had no feeling or function in the left side of his body. Doctors determined he had suffered a cryptogenic stroke, a stroke of unknown origin that most commonly impacts younger adults.
“It came totally out of the blue,” said William, a Pennsylvania native who grew up in Virginia before settling in Connecticut following his Navy service as a Navigation Electronics Technician from 1997-2004. “It just blew a big hole in our lives. It’s been quite a change going from a healthy 38-year-old to a very, very sick 39-year-old.”
“We woke up that next morning and our lives had changed 180 degrees,” added William’s wife Nicole.
Since that time, William has been on the road to recovery, unable to work and enduring a grueling schedule of physical therapy that will hopefully, one day, restore his function to the point where he can return to his job at Electric Boat. In the meantime, Nicole manages the household and the couple’s two young children, Billy and Mitzie, with the help of William’s sister, Natalie, who has moved from Texas to stay with the family, and a mountain of support from additional family members, friends and neighbors.
On a Saturday in March 2019, that support extended beyond the Ivey’s immediate circle to the community at large. House of Heroes Connecticut brought a team of workers to the Ivey home to help the family out.
Buoyed by volunteers from Glastonbury’s Marine Corps League (MCL), Peter P. Monaco Jr., Detachment 40, the House of Heroes team took on the enormous “demo” job of clearing and cleaning a dumpster full of material from the basement of the Ivey’s 1930s-era Colonial on Overlook Road in South Glastonbury. The job had been started by William, but the work stopped and the basement remained unusable and unsafe following his stroke.
“For our Marine Corps League members this is just a terrific assignment, helping out a fellow veteran in need,” said MCL Detachment 40 member Chris Strauss, who served as the Detachment’s point person for the day-long project. “It’s such a terrible thing that happened to William, and it’s an honor to team up with House of Heroes and do anything we can do to help this family get their house back into proper living condition.”
“This is just an adorable couple and family, and what has happened to them is so tragic,” said next-door neighbor Keven Deyoung, who pitches in to assist the family. “William is amazing and Nikki (Nicole) is amazing too. She is always smiling; you would never know what they are up against.
“And this project with House of Heroes is unbelievable. As a neighbor, to see this family get the help that they need just brings warmth to my heart.”
“I’m very grateful today for House of Heroes,” said William after accepting an encased American flag from House of Heroes during a formal ceremony before a living room full of volunteers, family, friends and neighbors. “The help you have provided is so important for our family, and we’re so proud to be a part of this organization.”
Added Nicole, “This just goes to show how many people there are out there with enormous hearts, willing to help out. We can’t thank you enough.”