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Heroes: Free homes for disabled veterans

3:03 PM, Dec 23, 2011   |    comments
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Parish, Florida -- With the war in Iraq officially over, thousands of American troops are now out of that country and hopefully will be heading home soon.

But some service men and women, who've already returned home with permanent disabilities, are finding new homes to return to.  They are houses made especially for them.

Staff Sergeant Juan Roldan is one of them.  On Dec. 10th, was officially handed the keys to his new home in Parrish, Florida.  It was built by the group Homes for Our Troops, a national non-profit organization that builds specially adapted homes for service members who are severely disabled--at no cost to the veterans.

"They need to know that the communities back home support the," said Larry Gill of Homes for Our Troops. "They need to rest easy. If they get hurt we're going to take care of them."

Staff Sergeant Roldan was a rising star in the Army--serving in both Afghanistan and Iraq.  On Dec. 29, 2006 he and his crew were patrolling the streets of Sadr City, Iraq when an insurgent's bomb hit their convoy.  The driver and gunner on his Humvee were killed and Roldan was left a double amputee with spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries.  He endured years of recovery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

SSgt. Roldan wasn't even aware of the Homes for Our Troops program when he was awarded a home.  A physical therapist sent in his application.  He found out about it right around his birthday in March.

"That was my biggest birthday present," says Roldan.  "Somebody telling me that they're going to build me a house.  You don't get that very often."

His house was built with his needs in mind.  Doorways are wider and the kitchen is completely wheelchair-accessible.  It gives Juan the security he needs to continue with his recovery.  And it gives him and his daughter Bryana a home they can be proud of.

"I have a place that I can call home," said Roldan. "I have a place that my daughter can also call home.  She deserves that and a whole lot more."

And although he's too humble to admit it himself, Staff Sergeant Juan Roldan deserves a whole lot more, too.

Roldan expects to move into his new home in the spring, after recovery from another surgery.

Homes for Our Troops has built more than 1000 houses across the country.  It gets no government funding.

Click here to learn more about the organization and find out how you can contribute.

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