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Organization to build home for injured veteran

STELLA — Community members of all ages came out Saturday to celebrate the start of construction for a new home that will give back to a veteran severely injured in service to his country.

Homes for Our Troops held a groundbreaking ceremony in the Stella community marking the start of a project that will provide Army Sgt. Anthony Verra with a specially adapted home to improve his accessibility and mobility within his home and to allow him to be an active member of his family.

The Student Leadership Team at Swansboro Elementary School wanted to do their part to help and came out to the event with Principal Lisa Peele to make a donation of $500 to the project.

“Our leadership team selected Homes for Our Troops as our project because we wanted injured troops to have a good home so they could be active in the daily lives of their families,” said fifth grader Riley Barger.

The students learned about the organization from a project that is nearly complete in nearby Forest Ridge subdivision and wanted to contribute. The team held a Winter Bash school dance to raise the funds.

Homes for Our Troops is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to building specially adapted homes for service members who have been severely in combat operations since Sept. 11, 2001.

Verra was on his second deployment when he lost both of his legs after stepping on an IED in Arghandab, Afghanistan in September 2010.

According to his biography, he had been called in to take pictures documenting the situation at a compound that had just been cleared of five IED’s. He stepped on an IED that had not been identified.

After nearly 60 surgeries, he continues treatments in Bethesda, Md. at the recently renamed Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

A rainy morning didn’t stop friends, family and community members from coming out to show their support.

For the Verra family it was also a time for them to express their gratitude.

“We’re excited. This is really going to make things easier for myself and my family,” said Verra, who was present with his wife, Shauna; son, Cameron, 11; and daughter, Scarlett, 2.

Shauna Verra said they are humbled by the support they have received.

“We can’t thank you all enough. It has been absolutely amazing,” she said.

Homes for Our Troops is preparing to dedicate its 125th home and has more than 40 homes in various stages of construction.

The Verra home will be the ninth project in North Carolina. A home for Marine Staff Sgt. Bradley Lang, who lost both his legs when he stepped on an IED while serving in Afghanistan in July 2011, is being completed in Stella and will soon be dedicated.

70 West Builders has been building partner on both projects.

Contact Daily News reporter Jannette Pippin at 910-382-2557 or jannette.pippin@jdnews.com.

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