Groups donate $13k for veteran’s pool effort

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Work is under way on the new pool for Brian Jergens.

More than a dozen veterans met at a Hollister resident’s home late last week in appreciation of the amputee’s service in the Army and presented the man with $13,000 in donations.
That veteran is Hollister resident Brian Jergens, 26 , an Army medic sergeant who uses swimming for physical therapy after he lost both his legs and suffered a brain injury while deployed in Afghanistan.
To do his swimming, Jergens had to travel 90 minutes to use a handicapped-accessible pool. Now, thanks to community donations, the Jergens will have a pool in their own backyard.
Since the Free Lance published an article about the Jergens family in mid-March, donations poured in to the project’s crowdfunding site on fundme.com. About $12,500 came from various veterans groups and $5,000 came from private donors, said swimming pool contractor Paul Benedetti.
“They’re getting ready to put in this pool, which has been in progress for months,” said Bernie Ramirez, the post commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9242, as he stood in the family’s backyard Friday afternoon next to a site where men sprayed concrete.
The Jergens family moved to San Benito County in 2013 after the nonprofit Homes For Our Troops offered to build them a handicapped-accessible house in Hollister. Their home, with its perfectly manicured lawn and U.S. and Army flags in the front yard, looks like any other on the block except for its low windows, wide hallways, lower counters and self-opening doors inside.
Brian and his wife, Jennifer Jergens, 22, have made San Benito County home and are raising their1-year-old son,Jackson, here.
In an outpouring of support, community members donated play equipment for the family’s backyard. They also gave materials and services for the pool.
“I’d say about 75 percent of the material has been donated,” said City Councilman Ray Friend, part of the American Legion Riders Post 69. “It would probably cost the average person $100,000 to put in this pool, and we’ll probably get it for $20,000 to $21,000.”
The veteran groups contributing donations to the pool project include the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9242 and the American Legion Post 69.
The two groups have joined together twice before—first to clear the backyard of weeds after Jennifer called it a “jungle” and then to assemble the pieces of a large play structure.
“It took us three days to put it together,” said Ramirez, the VFW post commander. “But we had a great time doing it and the little boy loved it.”
The donors included the VFW Post 9242 and the ladies auxiliary of the same group. The American Legion Post 69, the Sons of the American Legion, the American Legion Riders Post 69, the Ladies Auxiliary of the American Legion Riders Post 69 and District 28 of the American Legion also donated.
The Jergens were not present at the event Friday, so the swimming pool contractor accepted the checks on their behalf. The family had been invited to the San Francisco 49ers training camp to meet the players for the next season as part of a special “meet and greet” for soldiers and their families, explained the pool contractor.
The post commander of the VFW Post 9242 commented on the extraordinary sacrifice that Jergens made for his country and said the donation “still doesn’t seem like it’s enough.”
“Some people think we give too much,” said Joe Love, the commander of the American Legion Post 69. “But this man gave his two legs and bunch of other stuff and I bet he’d rather have all that than all this.”
To make a donation toward the pool project, go to: fundme.com/en/projects/15656-Build-Sgt–Brian-Jergens-a-Pool.
Donated dollars
Veteran groups: $12,500
Private donors: $5,000
Associates in the swimming pool industry: $4,000

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