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House going up for disabled vet
Many volunteers turn out for build
troop build 3 jd
Frank Mallarmace cuts a piece of lumber as Ronny Bryant steadies it. - photo by Jim Dean
On a clear winter day, the sounds of saws and hammers filled the air as a crew of about 40 people began building a house in a north Forsyth neighborhood.

Through an uncovered window, the workers could see Cpl. Joshua Lindsey in his wheelchair, smiling and chatting with volunteers who came out to help

Homes for Our Troops, a national nonprofit, selected 24-year-old Lindsey to receive a free, wheelchair-accessible home.

The three-day build brigade, which started Friday, will finish the home structure from the foundation up.

In about six to eight weeks, the home will be completed and Lindsey will move in at a key ceremony.

Larry Archer, build brigade manager for Homes for Our Troops, said the organization has finished 51 homes across the country. Another 35 are under construction.

Though he "dearly loves" what the nonprofit does, Archer can't be too happy with the quick growth.

"That means there's more troops like Joshua," he said. "Every one of these homes are for kids ... I shouldn't say kids, because for these guys I hold the utmost esteem. They're very mature for their age. They've lived life experiences that most of us will never, ever get to know."

A mortar and sniper attack during a 2005 patrol in Amarah, Iraq, left Lindsey a paraplegic.

The Georgia native had never imagined life outside the military, but soon found difficulty doing simple tasks.

Aspects of the new Cumming home will enable Lindsey to be more independent.

Features such as being able to roll into the shower or have a stove top with room for his chair underneath will help him greatly.

The opportunity to help Friday attracted a wide group of volunteers, from those who build homes for a living to those who had never seen one go up.

Gary Autry worked over a set-in section of the floor where he said a roll-in shower would go.

Autry has built hundreds of homes, though he felt none had been for such a "good cause."

Mark King, his boss at the Hearthstone Group in Gwinnett County, received word of the project through e-mail and brought three of his crew to work.

King, like many of the professional tradesman, directed those who didn't know what to do in order to get as much work as possible done for a project that was running a little behind.

"Push it up there, Tom," he said, directing Tom Gordy of Forsyth County to hold up a board that would run above the garage door.

Gordy, who serves in the Naval Reserves, was new to homebuilding.

"Anytime I can support a sailor or a soldier, it just does my heart good that I can help somebody because they have helped me and helped my family to be free," Gordy said.

Many volunteers at the site had ties to the military that brought the event closer to home.

Jamie Staugler's husband serves at Camp Frank D. Merrill in Dahlonega.

Her mother, Nancy Harden, has volunteered with two other build brigades for Homes for Our Troops and enlisted her daughter for this one.

Harden said the opening ceremony is an emotional event that's "just like hair on the back of your neck standing up."

From all the volunteers welcoming Lindsey with U.S. flags to a group singing "Proud to be an American," Staugler couldn't help but tear up a little.

"It's so rewarding," Staugler said. "We need to do something to help these guys out because they give up so much."

Added her mother: "Having a son-in-law that's in the military makes a difference too, because I sure would want people helping him if he needed it."

Lindsey was grateful for the people volunteering and welcoming him to the community.

He was overcome with emotion during the opening ceremony, looking out at the crowd. But soon he returned to his usual self, enjoying the scenery and the people he met.

He looks forward to relocating from Colorado and spending time with his new friends.

"There's nothing like the South. That's the truth," he said. "People are willing to take time out of their day just to come by."