Volunteers build custom home for injured vet
COLUMBIA — The sound of home construction is a welcome one in this economy. Over the weekend 500 volunteers were busy in one Columbia neighborhood doing just that for an injured vet and his family.
Under the sun and an American flag, volunteers are finishing up a weekend's worth of work while Army Staff Sergeant Robert Canine watches from across the street. Friday morning, crews started with nothing more than a slab of concrete. By Sunday, they're stapling shingles to the roof.
"It was a slab on Friday and it looks like a house on Sunday," SSG Robert Canine said.
Canine is originally from Mexico, Mo. He's served in the Army for more than 10 years but was injured last May during his second tour in Iraq.
"We were going back to base," Canine said. "On the way back, I was hit with an I.E.D. that disabled the vehicle and came in on the driver side in front of the door and hit me in the legs."
Both legs had to be amputated beneath the knee.
Volunteer Sarah Geist was moved by his story and wanted to help out. She's been doing whatever organizers need her to do for the past two days.
"If he can do that for our country then the least we can do is give him a place to call home," Geist said.
That's exactly what the group Homes for Our Troops hopes to do. With the help of donors and local construction workers, the national non-profit group builds adapted homes for severely injured vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan at no cost.
"It's really amazing what people are willing to do for injured soldiers," Canine said.
From the rafters to the floor, this house was made with him in mind.
"Every room in the house will be handicap accessible with wider doorways and grab bars," organizer Doreen Lewis said. Lewis works for Homes for Our Troops. "The kitchen will have roll-under counters so unfortunately Robert's gonna have to help with the dishes."
After losing two legs in battle, washing dishes is something Canine is looking forward to doing in his new home.
"We're just amazed and thankful for everything," Canine said. "It's a very humbling experience."
SSG Canine and his family hope to move into their new home by late summer.