Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

A Soldier Comes Home ; Volunteers Raising House for Disabled Iraq Veteran

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

A Soldier Comes Home ; Volunteers Raising House for Disabled Iraq Veteran

Article excerpt

Giving up a weekend is small compared to what injured Iraqi veteran Army Sgt. Kenneth Harker has sacrificed for everyone, said Chris Kopchek, who was volunteering Friday to help build a new house for the wounded soldier. Harker, a 27-year-old Evansville native, was a member of the Army's 4th Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, based at Fort Polk, La., when his Humvee struck a roadside bomb in the Sadr City district of Baghdad, Iraq, on June 7, 2008. The vehicle's turret gunner, he lost of both of his legs to the blast, which killed one of the three soldiers in the Humvee.

Harker was selected recently by Homes For Our Troops, a Taunton, Mass.-based organization that builds specially adapted homes for severely injured veterans who have served the country after 9/11, to receive a home. The four-bedroom house for him, his wife Heather, 23, and 6-month-old daughter Kenslee, is being built at 11400 Savana Court near the Posey-Vanderburgh county line.

"It's a big honor because they have fought for us, fought for my freedom and to be able to give something back to them that they really need, it's a big honor," said Kopchek, a Rolling Thunder Indiana Chapter 6 member and one of some 150 people who have volunteered to help build the house this weekend.

Construction of the home was ahead of schedule by Friday afternoon, according to Jennifer Fiorentino, Homes For Our Troops spokeswoman. Building got under way at 6 a.m. Friday, and the first wall went up just after 8:30 a.m. Fiorentino expected shingling and siding to begin Friday evening or first thing today.

"If they keep going at this pace, the expectation is that it could be wrapped up much earlier than Sunday afternoon," she said.

Kopchek has helped distribute water, food and directs people to the right place. He encourages everyone to volunteer for a cause such as this.

"I think that anybody, if they can take just a little bit of time to come out to help out with a cause that's greater than them," he said, "It's greater than any little thing they might be doing.... Take a little time to give to somebody else."

In the hot, humid weather, Fiorentino said it's important to keep everyone hydrated and fed. …

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