A Massachusetts veteran is beginning a new chapter in New Hampshire following the generosity of Homes For Our Troops.
This weekend, construction of a fully accessible, single-story home will begin in Derry for Army Sgt. Brandon Korona, who lost his lower left leg after an improvised explosive device hit his vehicle while on a mission in 2013 in Afghanistan.
Korona, who currently lives in Dracut, Mass., with his wife, Chelsea, and their newborn baby boy, says he cannot express enough appreciation for Homes For Our Troops and all they do for injured veterans throughout the nation.
“It is impossible for me to navigate the house as I would like to,” he said of his existing residence. Mundane tasks are challenging and using the wheelchair is not possible in the split-level home, explained Korona.
To have a mortgage-free house that is also fully accessible will be life changing, according to Korona.
“I am living my life for more than just myself now,” he said, adding a new home will help him live his life to the fullest — for the benefit of his entire family.
The new home, which will be constructed at 10 D’Amore Lane in Derry, will feature more than 40 special adaptations such as widened doorways for wheelchair access, a roll-in shower and kitchen amenities that include pull-down shelving and lowered countertops, said Tom Landwermeyer, president and CEO of Homes For Our Troops, a national nonprofit organization based in Taunton, Mass.
“We have already got the slab poured. We anticipate framing to begin in about another week,” said Landwermeyer, noting construction should be completed by early fall.
The home will be designed to alleviate mobility and safety issues associated with a traditional home, and will allow Korona to function day-to-day without assistance and without being dependent on others for minor tasks, he said.
This will be the second home constructed in New Hampshire by Homes For Our Troops, which has built 316 houses across 42 states since its inception in 2004.
“We are excited even more than normal because this build is close to home for us,” said Landwermeyer. “And they really are a wonderful young family. It will be fun to watch them experience this.”
The total cost of the project has not yet been finalized, but typical homes range from $600,000 to $800,000, which includes land acquisition. Landwermeyer said the price tag could fluctuate depending on the lumber expenses that have been on the rise recently.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Homes For Our Troops still managed to build 25 homes in 2020 — a feat only made possible because of generous donations, foundations, grants, independent fundraisers and private contributions, he said.
A community kickoff event will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at the A.J. Letizio Enterprise Center in Windham. The public is invited to attend, meet Korona and learn more about the specially adapted custom home that is about to get underway.
“We want the communities to meet the veterans that will be in their hometowns,” added Landwermeyer.