JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Homes for the Troops broke ground on another home for a disabled veteran on a heart warming Sunday morning in St. Johns County.
Bagpipes and motorcycle veterans escorted Marine Lance Corporal Brandon Long down Honey Branch Lane to where Homes for the Troops broke ground on a new house for Long and his wife, daughter and nephew.
A large crowd lined the streets with American flags and cheered when Long came out of his vehicle and into a wheelchair.
Three years ago this month, Long was on his first deployment when he lost both of his legs during a blast of an IED in Afghanistan. He required resuscitation multiple times during the ordeal and lost a tremendous amount of blood. It happened two days before the birth of his daughter Claire. He spoke of his first calls back home.
"The first phone call my wife was getting ready to give birth, the second phone call my daughter was crying in the background. And I told myself that I have to get home. Doctors were telling me that chances were looking pretty slim but I told myself whatever I have to do I am going to get home and see my daughter. She has definitely has been an inspiration to do better with my life, and keep going and not look down."
Now thanks to Homes for The Troops, Long will have a new home just down the street from Master Sgt. John Hayes, a recently retired wounded Marine, and Corporal Tyler Southern. Southern got his house two years ago from Homes from the Troops, Hayes earlier this year.
"Without a doubt it has been the biggest blessing of my life, and I am very grateful homes for the troops entered my life," Hayes told the people gathered for the groundbreaking ceremony.
Now Long and his wife Nicole will benefit from homes for the troops and join his military friends and their wives in the same neighborhood.
"Words can't even explain how much this means to me. To get a house where I can be a husband again, without the family having to take care of me, it just means so much to me. To be around people I know and was actually at the hospital with, it means the world to me."
His wife Nicole can also benefit from two wives in the neighborhood who know what she is going through.
"Being able to relate to people that have full understanding of our situation is going to be amazing, " said Nicole Long.
Tyler Southern said he sold the neighborhood like it was his job, happy to have the Longs move in and join the wounded support team.
"We are going to mess with everybody on Halloween, we are going to do a haunted house, we are going to be zombies, and crawl out from the smoke. It is going to be great."
No wonder Brandon Long had such a big smile on his face.
Homes for the Troops has built 146 specially adapted homes for wounded troops since 2005.
First Coast News