Injured in Afghanistan two years ago, a local veteran is getting a helping hand from a church and the community. He’s covering the cost of the land and foundation, but Abiding Word Church in Sterling is taking care of everything else.
“Shrapnel to my eyes, to my brain, so they removed half my skull and now it’s a titanium plate,” said Michael Shoemaker, an Army veteran who was hurt while serving in Afghanistan.
“We were moving ammunition, and some grenades blew up and I think they said 13 grenades blew up,” said Shoemaker.
Six people were hurt. One man, David Taylor, was killed. Shoemaker wears a bracelet with his name on it and Taylor is now the middle name of Michael’s three month old little girl. Michael has four kids. His family is currently renting a home in Amboy, but they will soon be moving to a house built on a plot of land in Harmon, Illinois.
“We just wanted to honor one of our wounded warriors,” said Rev. Scott Porter of Abiding Word Church, “We just thought, who can we bless here locally, build a house for? So immediately, we thought why not one of our veterans who came home?”
“I think it’s awesome,” said Shoemaker.
Shoemaker sold his truck to help cover the cost of the land and foundation.
“We’re taking care of building the structure, the roof and even the interior as well,” said Porter.
Others in the community are also offering their help.
“We’ve had a local garage door company step up and say, hey, we’ll supply the garage door and the opener. We had a roofing company say, we’ll provide the labor,” said Porter.
“Really it was more of a shock because there’s a lot of programs and little groups that build houses for soldiers and stuff. I’ve tried signing up for more than a dozen, there’s so much red tape to go through,” said Shoemaker.
“It’s just a little bit to say thank you. I mean you can never ever say thank you enough or do enough, we thought this is a small thing we could do to just make life a little easier for him, once he’s back home,” said Porter.
Building is expected to start in the next few weeks. Abiding Word Church was originally planning to build a home in Joplin, Missouri, but those plans fell through. Abiding Word Church has sent members to help with several disasters in the past few years.