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By Jeff Pack
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Volunteers come out in force to work on disabled veteran's home

 

Last updated 8/30/2019 at 5:48pm

An unusually warm Saturday morning couldn’t stop more than 150 volunteers from showing up to work on the future home of a disabled U.S. Army veteran relocating to Fallbrook with the help of Homes for Our Troops.

The event is the second for the home build for Spc. Joseph Paulks, leading up to the key presentation ceremony, Saturday, Sept. 7.

The landscaping event was organized by Homes for Our Troops with the help of general contractor Youngren Construction.

“We as a company and also as a family are so appreciative to be a part of giving back to our veterans who have given so much,” Jennifer Youngren said. “Joey’s home will be the 23rd we’ve completed for Homes for Our Troops. We get to know each veteran throughout the build process but the best part for us is seeing them through the years afterward. It’s amazing to witness how each family has thrived because of the freedom this specially adapted home provides.”

Paulks was serving with the 546th Military Police Company as the lead driver of a Quick Reaction Force in southern Afghanistan in 2007, and while on a rescue mission, his convoy was struck by an improvised explosive device, causing the vehicle to flip over.

Though he was ejected from the vehicle, he was engulfed in flames. His unit quickly put the fire out with fire extinguishers as Paulks sustained severe burns. He was moved to the nearest U.S. facilities in Afghanistan, where doctors put him into a medically induced coma.

“They transported me to Landstuhl in Germany, where they actually called my mom and told her to fly out to Germany because they didn’t think I was going to make it,” Paulks said in a video from Homes for Our Troops. “They were hoping that they could get there to say goodbye.”

But Paulks’ condition stabilized, and he woke up three weeks later at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. Over the next 18 months, he went through 50 surgeries including skin grafts and the removal of all of his fingers. He also underwent extensive plastic surgery on his face.

Medically retired, he said he struggles to maintain a safe body temperature. With burns covering 80% of his body making him sensitive to extreme high and low temperatures and sunlight.

The home that Youngren Construction is building for Paulks features more than 40 major special adaptations that will help him be able to open doors, drawers and manage his difficulties with changes in temperature.

Paulks attended the event.

“Joey was there,” Youngren said. “He spoke before they got started. He was so appreciative, excited about his new home. I spoke with him afterward and he mentioned this was a bit surreal.”

Youngren said that because so many people showed up to volunteer Saturday, they were able to landscape the entire backyard in about an hour.

“Plants, trees, sod, mulch, raking, cleaning all done within an hour,” Youngren said. “It’s pretty impressive – 340 plants, 3,000 square feet of sod, seven fruit trees, nine ornamental trees and 50 yards mulch.”

According to Youngren, the final inspection was to take place earlier in the week, and the home would be ready to turn over to Paulks, Saturday, Sept. 7.

Though this home building event is coming to an end, Youngren Construction said they aren’t done working with Homes for Our Troops.

“Currently, we have three others under construction from Ramona to Winchester, and four more soon to begin,” Youngren said. “We are honored to be a part of the Homes for Our Troops mission ‘Building Homes, Rebuilding Lives.’”

For more information about Homes for Our Troops, visit http://www.hfotusa.org.

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at [email protected]

 

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