Volunteers Build an Iraq War Veteran a New Home in Florida

SSG Juan Roldan lost both his legs in an IED explosion in Iraq. While recovering at Walter Reed, he met Lt. Col. (Ret.) Andrew Lourake, who volunteered to help amputees because he too lost a leg but was able to remain on active duty.

Friday morning hammers began swinging as more than 100 volunteers started to build a house in Parrish, Florida for Army Staff Sergeant Juan Roldan. The non-profit Homes for Our Troops enlisted the local construction community to contribute materials and labor for the severely injured soldier’s home.

Red shirts handed out to the volunteer builders were everywhere. Their goal: to frame, side and roof the injured veterans’ new house in the Harrison Ranch subdivision by the end of Sunday.

The home’s interior will be finished over the next few months with large door openings, a roll-in shower and other adaptations for Army Staff Sergeant Juan Roldan, who lost both his legs in an IED explosion in Iraq.

“Nobody had any obligation building this house, nobody,” said a soft spoken Roldan who was overwhelmed by the response of volunteers. “But people chose to contribute in whichever way they could and for that I will be eternally grateful.”

He has spent the last four and a half years recuperating from his injuries, including Traumatic Brain Injuries, at Walter Reed Hospital. That’s where Lt. Col. Andrew Lourake met him.

The goal is to have the injured veteran's home framed, with siding and a roof within three days.

“Being an active duty person with an amputation, I was in the unique position to be able to go and mentor, counsel wounded coming back, showing life basically is not over just because you have an amputation,” Lourake said. Despite losing one of his legs above the knee, Lourake returned to active duty as a pilot. He now is retired to Florida.

Roldan said he’s looking forward to having his mentor over to his home soon and to having neighbors instead of roommates. And most importantly, his daughter will have her own room.

And Parrish will soon have a new family thanks to the generosity of Badger Construction, Taylor Morrison and the other contributors who signed on with Homes for Our Troops to build Roldan a new home.

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