ST. GENEVIEVE COUNTY, MO (KTVI)-- A badly wounded Marine from Jefferson County is about to have his dream home built before his eyes. But for Cpl. Justin McLoud, the dream is different than it once was. He is a triple amputee who will need a specially constructed home to make life easier. And there’s a group out there that specializes in just that.
The outer shell of McLoud’s new home will be built in just three days. It would seem like a Herculean feat. But when you meet Justin McLoud, you quickly learn nothing is impossible. The fact that he’s hear at all borders on miraculous.
“I actually died for like eight minutes,” he said. “I flat lined and they were able to bring me back and stuff, and saved as much of the body as they could for me.”
He was serving in Afghanistan when was seemed routine suddenly became life-changing.
“We were just out on a regular foot patrol and we took contact. And we were just trying to flank the enemy and my engineer stepped on a pressure plate and we both got blown up.”
He would lose both legs and an arm. Returning home would bring many challenges, the first of which was being strong for his wife and their little boy, now two years old.
“I didn’t want to freak them out so much so. I just tried to take it as best as I can. Try to look at the positive things and suck it up.”
Amber McLoud appreciates all he’s done.
“It’s been amazing. He’s my war hero,” she told us.
Life has changed, with her role as a caregiver suddenly expanding beyond their son.
“It’s definitely difficult, especially having a toddler running around. You’ve got to keep up with both of them. It’s kind of one of those things that when you’re put in a position you can either run from it or fight through it. And obviously I’m gonna fight through it.”
The fight became a little easier when the group Homes For Our Troops contacted them during Justin’s recovery. They have built 110 homes around the country for wounded service members. The homes are designed to accommodate those who have lost limbs. The house, outside Festus, MO in northern Ste. Genevieve County, will be a blessing.
“So much easier,” Amber said. “It was one of the first things that I was worried about. How are we gonna get a house that can accommodate for a wheelchair and can accommodate that he’s gonna be able to reach things that he needs, and when Homes for Our Troops came around and everything just laid out perfectly.”
Doreen Lewis from Homes For Our Troops flew in from Boston to oversee the weekend’s construction project. She says the smile on Justin’s face as he surveyed the foundation Thursday evening is a reflection of their mission.
“To be able to watch Justin go through his home even with the walls not up yet and be able to get around and you can see it on his face already, the excitement that he’ll be able to get around his home and get into his son’s room.”
And for those doing the work, like contractor Clarence Tucker, the rewards are endless.
“It’s an honor,” he said. “We all thought, Boy, he’s so young. And just to be a part of it, to change his life. And anyone I talked to about coming to help, it’s just like, when do you start?”
Justin can’t wait to see this home spring from the Ste. Genevieve County lot.
“Very excited to see it built just in front of my eyes.”
More than 70 volunteers showed up to start work on Friday. The plan is to get the outer shell done in just three days.
"You will never find another volunteer effort more rewarding than helping construct this specially adapted home for a person who sacrificed for us." said volunteer Dan Vogler
Homes For Our Troops says the McLoud home is the second in Missouri. They've built over 110 homes for wounded soldiers across the country since 2004. Army veteran Robert Canine was injured in Iraq and has the first soldier home built in Columbia in 2010. He was happy to volunteer his time to help with the build.
"I was fortunate enough to have a home built by Homes for our Troops, which is handicapped accessible you can get into every room, cook, eat, get into the bathroom, shower, do everything you need to do," said Canine.
If you’d like to pitch in, the group is looking for volunteers. To get there, take Interstate 55 south to exit 162. Turn right at the bottom of the ramp. You will travel west for 4.7 miles. Cedar Trails Road will be on the right. Make the right turn and take the road to the end. Turn right at that T and Justin’s lot is the second one on the left.
If you’d like to donate, you can also go to the Homes For Our Troops website at http://www.homesforourtroops.org/site/PageServer