Work begins on home fit for a vet
CASCADE -- Construction officially began Monday on a new house for former Montana National Guard Staff Sgt. John Bennett.
CASCADE — Construction officially began Monday on a new house for former Montana National Guard Staff Sgt. John Bennett.
"This community has been really wonderful to us, and we appreciate it," Bennett told a small gathering, his voice cracking with emotion.
The home will be about 2,700 square feet, financed by donations and volunteer labor.
"Everything will be on one level," said retired contractor Terry Curnow. "It will have countertops at his height, closets he can get into and a stove with knobs that he can reach without burning his hand."
He hopes the home will be ready for occupancy by Thanksgiving.
Spearheading the effort is Homes for Our Troops, a nonprofit based in Taunton, Mass., which has built six homes for wounded vets since it was established in December 2004.
Thirteen other projects — including the home for John and Dena Bennett and their five children — are currently underway.
"Dena wrote us a letter outlining their needs," said Kirt Rebello, projects director for Homes for Our Troops. "And as soon as we opened it, we knew we had to step in and help."
Home for Our Troops is prepared to contribute up to $150,000 to the home, but any materials, services or money donated will allow the group to help more of the 18,000 vets currently injured while engaged in the war against terrorism.
Some of the major donors include:
Fontana Surveying contributed the survey;
Gateway Construction is doing excavation and site work;
Johnson-Madison Lumber Co. is providing floor joists;
L'Heureaux Page Werner is the architect;
Mountain Title will pay closing costs and title insurance;
Poulsens is donating door knobs, faucets, insulation, paint and roofing;
And Strobel's Rentals is providing a PA system and various construction equipment.
John Gonsalves said he founded Homes for Our Troops after he tried to donate to such an organization, but found none existed.
"I never served," said Gonsalves. "So this is my way to serve people like John and Dena Bennett."
That gesture brought an enthusiastic thank you from Montana Adjutant General Randy Mosley, commander of Bennett's former unit, the 163rd Infantry Battalion.
"The thought of an organization that would step forward and do something so tangible for a wounded soldier just floored me," said Mosley. "This is the greatest, greatest cause that I could ever imagine."
And Dena Bennett said she is grateful for the new home because it will allow her husband to regain a little of his lost independence.
"This home means he can be normal," she said. "At least as normal as he can be."
Reach Tribune Projects Editor Eric Newhouse at 791-1485, 800-438-6600 or email@example.com.