Group builds homes for 'wounded warriors'
At one time or another, we have all volunteered for something. But few of us will ever pay the price like our veterans. While we can never fully repay them for their service, one organization is coming about as close as possible.
It doesn't take long to realize something very special is happening at a construction site in Kokomo.
"What we do is build houses for severely wounded vets," said Troy Mercer, project manager.
Most of the materials and the manpower for this project are donated. Wendy's in Kokomo even donated food for the construction workers.
"This is a home for Specialist Sgt. Anthony Walton. He was shot 37 times in Afghanistan," said Mercer.
Now the 34-year-old married father of three has something to look forward to.
"All of our homes are specially adapted homes built specifically for each family," said Capt. Marcus Trauerbach, Homes for Wounded Warriors.
The idea for the Homes for Wounded Warriors project came from Capt. Trauerbach, but Troy Mercer does most of the heavy lifting, organizing volunteers and donations which in turn covers two-thirds of the cost of the home.
"When I first met him I said, 'Don't worry, we got your back,'" said Mercer.
It is hard to talk about because Mercer also knows what it's like. He served three combat tours and has undergone seven surgeries since 2008 but he is not focused on that now. He is focused on a man who returned from his 286th mission near the Pakistani border, legally blind and without the use of his left arm.
"My wife ties my shoes, zips my coat, puts on my deodorant. She helps me bathe. You go from being completely independent, in combat leading soldiers, to having someone have to care for you," explained Walton.
"It's the most rewarding thing in the world to give a family a home. You give them a set of keys and say here you go," said Trauerbach.
Walton wears a necklace with his dog tags and one of the 37 bullets that struck him down and his wedding ring, which he can no longer wear, so they will always be close to his heart.
"When I look and see this, it is community in the greatest sense," he said.
It is a great place to call home.
Right now construction is scheduled to be complete December 8th, which means the Waltons can be in their new home just in time for Christmas.