LAKE GEORGE - The path that's bringing Chris and Angela Ryan to Lake George began with two machine gun rounds fired in April 2005 near Iraq's northern border with Syria.
The Ryans are giving up a career, a house and the comforts of their hometown outside of Newburgh so their 27-year-old son, former U.S. Marine Corps sniper Eddie Ryan, will have access to the treatment he needs.
"It's not something we want to do. We obviously would like to stay close to the rest of our family. I hate leaving my job," said Chris Ryan, a unionized heavy equipment operator. "Will I make the same kind of money up here? I'm not sure, but it's something I have to do for my family."
The two full-metal-jacketed rounds traveled at more than 2,900 feet per second before piercing Eddie Ryan's skull and face during the 2005 assault of Husaybah. He was left clinging to life on a rooftop in the Iraqi village, the Ryans said.
The bullets severely damaged Eddie Ryan's brain, leaving him wheelchair-bound, without the use of his dominant hand and cognitively impaired.
For years, the Ryans have made regular trips to the Stratton VA Medical Center in Albany, a two hour drive from their home in Ellenville. The Albany facility boasts more comprehensive therapy programs than its downstate peers, they said.
Looking to halve the distance to Albany and give their son greater access to Veterans Affairs occupational and physical therapists, the Ryans have begun constructing a home in Lake George. Eddie Ryan and his family spent much of their summers in Lake George, where they have a seasonal home. But until recently, uprooting and becoming permanent residents wasn't on their radar.
"We realized that we have to take aggressive action so he will get the treatment he needs," said Angela Ryan. "To uproot after 25 or 30 years in the same home isn't something we'd planned on."
Construction began last week on the Ryans' new home on state Route 9N. The two-story structure will feature a sprawling first-story floor plan that will allow Eddie Ryan almost total access. For 16 months after being wounded in action, Angela Ryan followed her son from hospital to hospital. She immediately quit her job and spent more than a year sleeping on waiting room couches or bedside chairs. Already down one income, the Ryans said they've drained their savings in search of better treatment for their
"The financing of the new house depends on the sale of the one in Ellenville," Angela Ryan said.
The move is also bringing Eddie Ryan's 25 year-old sister, Felicia to Lake George. She plans on moving to the community from Colorado with her husband and newborn baby shortly after the new house is completed.