N.J. Community Rallies Around Wounded Iraq Vet
UNION BEACH, N.J. (CBS) — Army Sgt. Mike Minard was on his third tour of duty in Iraq when he was critically injured, losing both legs.
But after nearly two years of rehab, it's now time for him to move his family into a new home -- thanks to an army of volunteers.
Just one day after construction started, Minard's new digs are taking shape very quickly.
"It's amazing," Minard said.
Minard lost both legs in a roadside bomb explosion in Baghdad in 2007, and his new home, a few towns away from where he now lives, is tailor made for his special needs.
"He'll be able to function like you and I in a regular house," said Rick Goyette of Homes For Our Troops. "The countertops will be lower so he can use them in a wheelchair. He'll be able to roll right out the back deck and have a nap in the middle of the afternoon if he wants to. Whatever he wants to do."
Homes For Our Troops supplies the materials and the building plan and then counts on the local community to volunteer everything else, including labor and even food. Minard said this kindness of strangers is overwhelming.
"It's still kind of hard to imagine. I'm seeing it, but I've never experienced anything like this before in my life," Minard said.
The heat may scorch, but volunteers don't mind.
"We have a good reason to do this. Mike Minard gave all he could give, so we're doing the same thing," carpenter Melvin Ford said.
And Minardi said this effort says a lot about his new neighbors in Union Beach.
"It tells me that this is an outstanding community, real tight knit and awesome community, a great place to live," Minard said.
Minard, who is married with two children, said this new start will give him what he needs most right now, a fighting chance at his new life.
"With the stability and the location and just the way the community works together, it gives me the opportunity to progress and that is what I want to do," Minardi said.
"I'm just grateful. I didn't expect any of this and I am very grateful for it."
This is the 40th house built for injured service members by Homes For Our Troops. Minard was worried that he has not been able to personally thank everyone who has helped out.
So CBS 2 HD said we would get the word out. A big thank you from Mike Minard.