Group to build home for injured soldier
Groundbreaking ceremony held January 6, 2007
By TJ Aulds
The Daily News
Published January 6, 2007
SANTA FE — Shawn Monroe could be bitter or resentful. But he isn’t.
Instead, the wounded U.S. Army soldier is grateful. He’s alive, has a wife, three rambunctious kids and, soon, a new home in Santa Fe.
“I’m grateful to everybody that is lending a hand, giving so much to me and my family,” Monroe said. “This community all around here has been great. I’m glad to have the opportunity to have a home here and stay here.”
Today, the group Homes for Our Troops will begin building a new house for Monroe, who lost a leg during a mortar attack while on duty in Iraq three years ago. The Virginia native, who moved to Texas to be closer to his wife’s family after he was wounded, said the new home is the fulfillment of “the American dream.”
“I was ecstatic. I was like, ‘This is what I need to be able to fight for American freedoms,’ and knowing the American dream is to own a home to raise your family. I just can’t wait,” Monroe said.
John Gonslaves, the founder of Homes for Our Troops, said he was more than happy to oblige.
Monroe’s will be the 22nd house the group has built or remodeled since it was created in 2004. It will be the first in Texas.
Consider Gonslaves and his troops of local homebuilders an “Extreme Makeover Home Edition” with a specific military twist.
“The biggest part is we get the local people to team up with us and hopefully do what they can,” Gonslaves said. He hopes as people hear about Monroe’s project they will donate material or time and that word will spread to help others.
“There are hundreds of soldiers in Texas that could use the help, so hopefully someone will read about this and lend a hand,” he said, noting the Monroe home needs volunteers and donors.
The house will be built at no cost to Monroe, who purchased the land with money he received from a military insurance policy.
Monroe’s road to the new home in Santa Fe came by way of a dedication to public service.
After stints as a police officer and prison guard in Virginia and the Carolinas, Monroe enlisted in the Army. While stationed at Fort Drum, N.Y., he met his wife, Kristi, who was an Army medic.
Initially Monroe, a sergeant, was stationed in Germany and a member of the 18th MP Brigade. In 2003, his unit was deployed to Iraq to train the Iraqi police force.
“We worked side by side with them, and it took them a while to get out, because they were afraid because most had not done this job before,” Monroe said of the Iraqi police trainees. “We were making progress, though, and were really in an observation role when it happened.”
“It,” was a mortar attack on a police station just outside of Baghdad.
“We pulled into the police station waiting for them to get their group up and go out on a nighttime patrol,” Monroe said. “Somebody from a good ways off fired off four or five mortar rounds.”
One hit right next to the Humvee in which Monroe was sitting.
“Three of us got hit. One didn’t make it,” he said.
That attack left him without a right leg. But with a prosthetic leg and after three years of rehabilitation, Monroe can chase his three boys, ages 9, 4 and 16 months.
He also substitute teaches in the Santa Fe school district. He’s hoping to get his teaching certificate and find a full-time job there — and possibly a coaching position.
“I was a pretty good track athlete back in high school, and I’d like to coach track if they’d let me,” Monroe said.
Seeing as he already is able to fulfill one dream in getting the new house, he thinks the chances of seeing to the second will happen as well.
What: Home groundbreaking for Sgt. Shawn Monroe
When: 1 p.m. today
Where: 15913 Pine Street in Santa Fe
Info: Homes for Our Troops, which is providing the new house, could use local volunteers and donors. Call 866-787-6677.
On the Web: www.homesforourtroops.org
Copyright © 2007 The Galveston County Daily News