Army veteran to get new home

Julie Huss/Staff photoArmy Sgt. Brandon Korona, second from left, and his family are greeted at a Home For Our Troops event Saturday in Windham. The Massachusetts veteran who lost a leg while serving in Afghanistan will be getting a new home built for him in Derry.

WINDHAM — An Army veteran and his family will be getting a new home thanks to an organization known for its service and support.

The national nonprofit Homes For Our Troops celebrated Army Sgt. Brandon Korona and his family Saturday in Windham, recognizing Korona's service and also speaking about the new home to be built for him and his family in Derry.

The event was held at the A.J. Letizio Enterprise Center in Windham with Korona arriving via official escort made up of Patriot Guard Riders, and other cyclist supporters out of Massachusetts. Pinkerton Academy's Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets also made up a color guard and Windham fire and police officials also were part of the escort.

Korona, currently living with his family in Massachusetts, was injured in June 2013 while serving in the Paktika province of Afghanistan. He was on a route clearance mission as a combat engineer with his unit when his vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device. 

The soldier was knocked unconscious, breaking his right ankle and every bone below his left knee. 

Korona spent two years recovering at Walter Reed Medical Center before returning home to Massachusetts. After four years of pain and a low quality of life trying to keep his left leg, he made the difficult decision to have doctors amputate his lower left leg.

"It was a fight," Korona said, "but I wanted to keep my life."

He added his type of amputation makes it so he can still feel his phantom limb that is missing.

"It feels like it should feel," he said. "It's pretty cool."

But getting around at home has been difficult.

"It's impossible for me to navigate the house like I used to," Korona said.

The home being built for Korona, his wife Chelsea and their new baby will feature more than 40 major special adaptations such as widened doorways for wheelchair access, a roll-in shower, and kitchen amenities that include pull-down shelving and lowered countertops.

The home will also help with mobility and safety issues associated with a traditional home, including navigating a wheelchair through narrow hallways or reaching for cabinets that are too high.

The home will be built in Derry, a location chosen by the family. The home will be a donation to the family, free and clear thanks to Homes For Our Troops and many supporters and donations.

Homes For Our Troops has built more than 315 homes in 42 states since its start in 2004. Korona's home will be the second built in New Hampshire.

To find out more about the organization, visit hfotusa.org.

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