What was once known as the Ryan Patrick Kennedy House, a future post traumatic stress disorder treatment facility, is now being called Tranquility House. Board members for the project made the decision earlier this week, but Ryan's family says that they are upset about it.
Ryan Patrick Kennedy was a soldier from Chicago who suffered from PTSD, and took his own life in 2012.
According to Ryan's mother, Linda Kennedy, the idea for the facility began in June 2013. Kennedy says it started during an online connection with another soldier's mother in northern Michigan. The two exchanged conversations about an organization and place where people like Ryan, who were suffering from PTSD, could go to heal. Kennedy says she was asked to use Ryan's name for the facility.
"It helped me to know that Ryan's name was going to be used to help other young soldiers suffering with PTSD so they wouldn't do what Ryan did," said Kennedy.
At the end of March, Kennedy and her oldest son Paul held a kick-off fundraiser in Chicago that brought out hundreds of people and raised thousands of dollars for the future facility in Traverse City. Kennedy said the board members in Michigan were aware of the fundraiser, and also approved the idea.
"I received an email two days after our fundraiser, stating that my oldest son and I were being removed, and that they were re-naming the facility," said Kennedy."
Board members say they made the decision after they saw the large amount of support that the Ryan Patrick Kennedy House was receiving from community members in Chicago.
"We determined that it would be better to allow them to reorganize, if you will, in Chicago and not here where we don't have any connection...where nobody knows Ryan Patrick Kennedy," said board member, Richard Edmonds.
The decision left Ryan's family extremely upset.
"Everything that was obtained for the house in Traverse City was obtained in Ryan's name and now it's not going to be," said Kennedy. "This was something promised to me. To move forward and have Ryan's name help other soldiers, and now it's all been taken from me. I'm devastated."
In a press release, board members wrote,"It was decided to separate Linda and Paul Kennedy from the original board to allow them to carry on with The Ryan Patrick Kennedy House in the greater Chicago area."
Board members say that the new name will be, Tranquility House, and that while they are still in the early stages of development, plans are still moving forward.
Since the Ryan Patrick Kennedy House was officially established in September 2013, multiple fundraisers have been held to raise money for the future facility. Around $1,500 was raised in Traverse City, and more than $25,000 in Chicago.
Edmonds says that the money raised in Ryan's hometown will stay there. He says the money that stays in Traverse City and is put towards the Tranquility House, will depend on the people who donated it.
"We'll contact them if they are known and not anonymous and make sure that they are providing it based on the name, Ryan Patrick Kennedy," said Edmonds. "And that they don't have a problem with the money going to Ryan Patrick Kennedy in Illinois."
"It is amazing to see that from an initial mission of having a PTSD wellness center in Northern Michigan, we now have two facilities in the works," board members wrote in a press release. "They say it takes a village to raise a child ~ It will take a nation to heal our Heroes."
But Ryan's mom said she never had any intention of opening up a Ryan Patrick Kennedy House in Chicago and that she has no interest in going through something like this a second time while using her son's name. She says she doesn't support the board members behind the project in northern Michigan, but that she supports any type of facility that wants to help soldiers.
"There's not a moment that I don't think about this because this was promised to me and it's dragging Ryan's name through the mud," said Kennedy. "It's bad enough that Ryan is gone but to have this happen is just overwhelming."
"We were trying to say that your organization can do better in Chicago where people know Ryan Patrick Kennedy," said Edmonds.
Edmonds also mentioned that they have given all the paperwork to Kennedy, in order to help her get started with her own PTSD facility.
Kennedy says she will be giving the money that was raised for the Ryan Patrick Kennedy House to a PTSD organization in Chicago in Ryan's name.
Edmonds says that organizers for Tranquility House will be dedicating the facility to local people that have been impacted by PTSD.