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Injured Iraq war veteran comes home, to a free home of his own

Homes for our Troops is a nonprofit that builds homes for injured vets in 20 states.

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Homes for veterans are built by volunteers with donated materials.

melanie stetson freeman – staff

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Sgt. Brian Fountaine was recovering in Walter Reed Army Medical Center when he got an unexpected visitor who offered to build him a house – free of charge. The visitor was John Gonsalves, founder of Homes for Our Troops, a nonprofit group that builds houses for severely injured veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Sergeant Fountaine, who lost both legs below the knees in Iraq, turned to his father after Mr. Gonsalves left and asked: "Is this guy for real?"

He is. This past weekend, Fountaine moved into a three-bedroom ranch here in Plymouth, Mass., completed with the help of hundreds of volunteers and donated building supplies and land. Homes for Our Troops saves an average of 60 percent on the cost of every home because of contributions like these.

"When a vet is in need, people come out of everywhere to help," says Mr. Gonsalves, a former contractor who calls on tradesmen and suppliers across the country to build the homes.

The homes are not "one size fits all," but are adapted to each vet's needs, Gonsalves says. While Fountaine gets around easily on his prosthetics, sometimes he needs to use a wheelchair, so his home was constructed with an open floor plan, extra-wide doors for the wheelchair, and a bathroom with special features.

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