Spirit of giving: Volunteers build home for Soldier
February 17, 2011
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Members of the Fort Jackson community turned out in force last week to lend a helping hand to a fellow Soldier.
Hundreds of Soldiers, civilians and family members joined other local volunteers to help build a new home for former Staff Sgt. Ronell Bradley, who was severely injured in 2005 while deployed in Iraq.
The home, which is located in Lake Carolina, is being built through Homes for our Troops, with the help of local volunteers.
"I came out to show support for a fallen comrade and to let him know we are here for him," said Sgt. 1st Class Barbara Posey, a drill sergeant leader at the Drill Sergeant School. "This is awesome what they are doing for him. A lot of times people get hurt and no one remembers you. We are showing Staff Sergeant Bradley he is not forgotten."
The home build was coordinated through Homes for our Troops, a non-profit organization that builds and remodels specially-adapted homes for the most severely-injured veterans. Eligible veterans may apply for assistance through the Homes for our Troops website at www.homesforourtroops.org.
The homes, which are provided at no cost to the recipients, are paid for through donations, and recipients may receive VA Specially Adapted Housing grants up to $63,780. The build began Friday and the shell of the home was completed Sunday. Builder Hallmark Homes will go in later to finish the interior of the 2,600-square-foot home.
"It is so amazing to see everyone from Fort Jackson come out and help build my dream home," Bradley said. "It really shows the leadership at Fort Jackson is committed to supporting injured Soldiers."
Bradley was on his third deployment when the vehicle in which he was riding drove over an improvised explosive device in Baghdad, on Sept. 21, 2005. The IED blast caused his weapon to explode in his hand, amputating his thumb and palm and the impact from the blast took off his right leg and severely hurt his left.
Pulled from the wreckage while under enemy fire, Bradley was taken to a hospital in the Green Zone and later airlifted to Germany, before going to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, where his left leg and right pinky finger were amputated.
Bradley also suffered from traumatic brain injury with short-term memory loss and spent three months in the hospital and nine more months undergoing therapy and learning how to use his new prosthesis.
He is currently working on his doctorate in Healthcare Management and hopes to pursue a career in health care management with the Department of Veterans Affairs.
His wife, Cynthia Bradley, works at Fort Jackson, managing one of the post's Child Development Center homes.
"To see so many Soldiers come out even though they have such busy schedules is so awesome. It really touches my heart," Cynthia Bradley said. "I take care of drill sergeants' children, and they came out here to take care of us."
Staff Sgt. Brian Garrett, a drill sergeant leader for the Drill Sergeant School, said he came out to show his appreciation for Bradley's service.
"The easiest and most sincere way to say thank you is through manual support," he said. "Being here is giving me a great sense of brotherly pride."
Soldiers representing Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers, who solicited volunteers postwide, were among those who came from several post organizations, agencies and units to help lift lumber and weatherproof the framing of the home.
A Friday opening ceremony included the 282nd Army Band, a Drill Sergeant School Color Guard, Installation Chaplain (Col.) Bart Physioc and Sgt. Maj. Timothy Webb, G3.
"I've been deployed twice and I heard Staff. Sergeant Bradley's story and just wanted to help out," said Spc. Chris Whidden, 3rd Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment. "We are all out here to do the same thing, and that is to help a fallen comrade."