Wounded Soldier Has New Foundation
Workers recently poured the concrete floor, and already Russ Marek is thinking about how to care for his new home once it is completed.
Home For Our Troops volunteers, coordinated by Holiday Builders, have started construction on a handicapped-accessible home for Marek, an Army staff sergeant from Satellite Beach who was severely wounded nearly three years ago in Iraq.
"He's asking, 'How am I going to mow the grass?' " his father, Paul Marek, said.
Russ Marek said homeownership is becoming more of a reality now that work has started, so he has been thinking about some of the things he will need to do, including maintenance.
"It's pretty interesting," Russ Marek said. "All of that has gone through my mind and the everyday things of keeping up a house."
The home is being built on Croghan Drive in the Capron Ridge development of Viera by Homes for Our Troops, which builds and adapts homes for severely wounded troops.
Volunteer contractors have offered their services for different phases of the construction.
When dozens of volunteers, friends and new neighbors showed up for the groundbreaking earlier this year, Russ Marek said he did not know so many people cared.
The exterior metal framing could begin going up this week. Construction could take several months to complete.
"I feel honored to even help out Russ Marek," said Orestes Hernandez, a construction manager for Holiday Builders. "I feel privileged to be a part of this."
Marek's new 2,200-square-foot home will have three bedrooms and will include automatic doors, a shower that will be easily accessible, grab bars and a specially made cabinet with shelves that will lower for easy reach -- features that should help the injured vet make full use of his new surroundings.
Marek was serving in Iraq with the Army's 4th Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division when he was critically wounded Sept. 16, 2005, in a roadside bombing. He lost his right arm and right leg and suffered a brain injury and burns over 20 percent of his body.
Family members said a positive attitude has helped him to steadily improve his physical condition. He recently began using special walking canes instead of a walker.
"We're making progress not only on the home," Paul Marek said. "He sees his own progress, too."
Homes for Our Troops builds new homes or rebuilds existing homes to make them handicapped-accessible for severely wounded service members. The organization does it at no cost to the veterans, relying on monetary contributions and donations from building contractors, suppliers, corporations and local volunteers.
"I'm happy about all those people that have stepped up to the plate," Hernandez said.