Volunteers build Wounded Warrior home
June 28, 2012
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - With all the fanfare of a small town parade, Homes for Our Troops put on a red, white and blue three-day build brigade in Havre de Grace for local Wounded Warrior Kelly Keck June 15.
Fire trucks and motorcycles escorted volunteers to the site on Old Level Road where a one-story home is being built from the ground up. More than 200 volunteers were on hand for Day 1 of the event.
APG Soldiers and civilians volunteered to work during the three-day event to frame, side and roof the house and install windows and doors. Volunteers included personnel from the U.S. Army Public Health Command and U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command.
Keck is an ATEC civilian. He lost his right leg and sustained severe nerve damage to his right hand from an anti-personnel mine while serving in Afghanistan.
Garrison's APG's Fred Posadas, DPTMS, led the color guard of USAPHC personnel during the opening ceremony.
Master Sgt. Shelia Sango of ATEC led the Day 1 group of volunteers. She said about 50 volunteers from ATEC organizations would pitch in to help out over the three days, including ATEC Command Sgt. Maj. Allen G. Fritzsching.
"It's all about espirit de corps," Sango said. "We start together, we finish together."
She said that Keck, who is a civilian, often works out with ATEC Soldiers during morning physical training.
"We have far fewer Soldiers than places like Fort Hood but our civilian together with our military force is formidable," she said.
Officials onsite included Homes for Troops Executive Director Dawn Teixeira and Sgt. Maj. Robert Gallagher of the Army Wounded Warrior (AW2) Program.
Teixeira said the home is the first in Maryland.
"There are many more around the country," she said. "Since 2004 we've built over 100 homes for post-9-11 Soldiers."
She added that volunteers still are needed for the project which aims to conclude within 90 to 120 days.
"Plenty of help will be needed for the landscaping open house," she said. To learn more, or to volunteer, visit www.homesforourtroops.org/keck.
When completed the specially adapted home will be a four bedroom, wheelchair accessible, one level home, about 2,800 square feet of living space; overall 3,500 square feet of maneuverable space.
It will have wider doors and hallways and feature pull-down shelving in the kitchen, accessible appliances, and two 5 feet by 8 feet bathrooms with therapeutic tubs.
Keck said he and his Family, wife Oksana and daughter Zoya, 6, were overwhelmed by the effort to provide them with a home that will greatly reduce the challenges he now faces getting in and out of his home.
"I definitely love my job and the great support of the good people I've worked with since 2008," he said. "We had looked at other properties but my wife found this one," he added. "We can't wait to call it home."
Volunteers included Keck's soon-to-be neighbor, Lt. Col. Jeremy Bushyager a Reserve Officer Training Corps instructor at Johns Hopkins University and Jeff Brock, president of the Susquehanna Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America.
"Friends knocking on my door got me involved," said Bushyager, adding that his two sons also were helping out.
"A lot more are coming out this weekend," he said.