About three years ago a Massachusetts contractor wanted to volunteer to help the nations most severely wounded veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan modify their homes. He discovered there was no such organization and so with little more then determination and a web site, he founded Homes for Our Troops. In the years since eleven homes have been built and 15 others are under construction or about to begin construction. Houston Public Radio’s Rod Rice reports that over the week-end ground was broken for the first such home in Texas.
At about the same time Homes for Our Troops was being founded, SSG Shawn Monroe was a military policeman serving in Iraq. He was outside an Iraqi police station just north of Baghdad when the area was hit by mortars. His best friend was killed and he was wounded.
“I had to have my left leg amputated and my right ankle and right knee were shattered so they were reconstructed.”
His rehabilitation took about 18 months and he now gets around with the use of prosthetics, crutches and a wheelchair. Monroe and his wife Kristi have three children and when there new home in Santa Fe is finished it will be adapted for his mobility.
“The doors and hallway will be wider and the bathrooms are to where you’ll be able to wheel in in a wheelchair and be able to turn a full circle in a wheelchair, so they’re spacious enough for me to get around.”
Monroe was a policeman and corrections officer before he went in the Army, today he’s a substitute teacher in the Santa Fe school district and will begin work on a teaching certificate so he can teach full time.
John Gonsalves is the man who founded Homes for Our Troops. He says construction on the Monroe’s home will begin with money already donated to the organization.
“We have some money set a side for the project now, now we come into the community and try to raise the rest of what we need and get the local volunteers and local supplies to donate some materials for us.”
Gonsalves is not worried about getting that support because Texans have been very generous over the last three years.
“Until recently Texas was a state we hadn’t done anything in, but outside of Massachusetts where we’re based, no other state has donated more money than Texas has.”
Mike McGhee also lives in Santa Fe, just a few miles from where the Monroe’s home will be built. He was contacted by Homes for Our Troops and was asked to be the general contractor. McGhee says corporate sponsors will donate windows and cabinets.
“And then we already got quite a few local craftsmen who are donating. For instance we have an air conditioning contractor who’s donating that work, we have an electrical team whose going to donate the electrical and we have another contractor a plumber who is donating that, are plans were donated, so we’re off to a good start.”
Local veterans and civic groups have already raised several thousand dollars and the Texas Daughters of the American Revolution will help raise money and volunteers will help make the home livable once it’s near completion.
For more on Homes for Our Troops and on this project specifically, you’ll find a link at kuhf.org.