Kokomo group builds homes for wounded veterans

Volunteers build a home in Kokomo for a severely wounded veteran.
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While we can never fully repay veterans for their service, one organization is coming close.

It doesn't take long to realize something very special is happening in Kokomo.

"What we do is build houses for severely wounded vets," said Troy Mercer.

Much of the materials and the manpower for the project is donated, even the food, which was donated by Wendy's of Kokomo.

"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.

Trauerbach had the idea for the Homes for Wounded Warriors project, but Mercer does most of the heavy lifting. He organizes 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'," Mercer said.

It's hard for Mercer to talk about, because he also knows what it's like for a veteran to return to civilian life. 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 Pakistan 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," Walton said.

"It's the best thing in the world to give a family a home, a set of keys and say, 'Here you go'," said Trauerbach.

Walton wears a necklace with his dog tags, one of the 37 bullets that struck him down and his wedding ring, which he can no longer wear on it, so they will always be close to his heart.

"When I look and see this, it is community in the greatest sense," Walton said.

Construction is scheduled to be completed on December 8, which means the Waltons can be in their new home just in time for Christmas.