A local military hero recently received the boost he deserved.
Some 200 people paraded in the cold rain down Broadview Drive in Huntington on March 31 to support U.S. Marine First Lieutenant James Byler.
Lt. Byler stepped on an improvised explosive device in 2010 while fighting in Afghanistan and was forced to have both legs and two fingers amputated.
Founded in 2006, “Building Homes for Heroes” is a national non-profit organization based in Valley Stream, N.Y. The goal is to help disabled veterans by rebuilding or renovating their homes to meet their needs.
“For a while we were looking for the most severely wounded veterans out there…100 percent disabled,” said Andrew McClure, chief operating officer of Building Homes for Heroes. “We’ve since loosened that up a little bit. We’ve started some new programs where we can reach out to those less severely wounded.”
After various fundraisers, and incredible support from the community of Huntington, Building Homes for Heroes will give Lt. Byler the handicap accessibility he needs in his home.
During the parade down Broadview Drive, Lt. Byler, his parents, Huntington Town Councilman Mark Mayoka and members of Building Homes for Heroes addressed the crowd to express their gratitude for this project.
“The very thing that I went off to go fight for, I come home and is now taking care of me, and in a strange way, it’s a beautifully perfect thing to witness,” Lt. Byler said. “Pretty much from day one when I got wounded, the support has been completely overwhelming, I didn’t expect any of it.
“I tell you, to come home to this, to people not only saying ‘Welcome home’ but ‘Hey, I want to build you a house, I want to make sure your life is okay, we’re going to take care of you,’” he said. “With that, how can you not recover? How can you not get back up on your feet?”
Lt. Byler’s new home should be completed on or before July 4. There will be a ceremony to celebrate its completion.
To learn more about Building Homes for Heroes, visit the organization’s website.