MADISON COUNTY, Ala. — A groundbreaking happened Tuesday, all in honor of a local hero, who lost his foot fighting in Iraq 15 years ago.
Helping a Hero and Breland Homes are teaming up to give the wounded warrior a new, free home.
The home is to be gifted to a true hero: Staff Sergeant Michael Brown with the U.S. Army. The groundbreaking took place in Triana at The Crossings at River Landing.
This is the second groundbreaking in only a few months for a home specially made for wounded warriors. It’s all part of the 100 Homes Challenge.
“We’ve been working with Breland Homes on designing a home that works for this family that has wider doors, a roll-in shower, a roll-under sink, other adapted areas throughout the home,” said Meredith Iler, the founder of Helping a Hero.
Kimberly Brown, Michael Brown’s wife, said they found out after a surgery last year that Mike’s wheelchair was not a good fit with their current home: “He couldn’t even roll into our bedroom, he couldn’t roll into the bathroom. He can’t get into the house because there’s a step up in every entryway into the house.”
SSG Michael Brown received a bronze star and a purple heart, following his service in Iraq 15 years ago when he was injured.
“So we left the Iraqi police station,” explained Brown. “Maybe three minutes later, I watched a guy step out of a doorway, raise his arm, and throw an antitank grenade at my vehicle. That tank charge melted the armor of my Humvee like butter and completely took my foot off, right about the ankle.”
He was only 22 at the time, married to Kimberly for over a year. His daughter Alyssa was only ten months old.
“The jewel of that experience was walking next to my daughter,” said Brown. “As she was taking her first steps, I was taking my second set of first steps.”
Now, they are stepping into a new chapter.
Brown found out about the surprise nearly four months ago at Lee Greenwood’s tribute concert, “All Star Salute” at the Von Braun Center.
Greenwood, an internationally-recognized singer and songwriter is an ambassador for Helping a Hero.
“I want to look them straight in the eye and say thank you, your sacrifice was not in vain and we’re going to help you get on your feet and that’s not a joke,” said Greenwood.
Brown describes the entire experience as gratifying.
“It means that the country as a whole, the community as a whole, has such an undying support of the military community,” he added. “It’s a very warm feeling.”
Just a few months ago, News 19 told the story of Sergeant First Class Scott Barkalow.
He was also gifted a house through Helping a Hero. His home, along with SSG Michael Brown’s should be ready to move in by the end of the year.