First responders support local veteran

A blue light escort made up of members of Derry police and fire, and Salem and Londonderry police departments led Army Sgt. Brandon Korona and his family to a new home built for them in Derry.

DERRY — An Army veteran and his family have received a new home thanks to an organization known for its service and support.

The national nonprofit Homes For Our Troops celebrated Army Sgt. Brandon Korona and his family recently in Derry, recognizing Korona’s service and also speaking about the new home ready for the soldier.

Keys to the home were presented to Korona during a ceremony held at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Derry.

Korona was injured in June 2013 while serving in the Paktika province of Afghanistan. He was on a route clearance mission as a combat engineer with his unit when his vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device.

The soldier was knocked unconscious, breaking his right ankle and every bone below his left knee.

Korona spent two years recovering at Walter Reed Medical Center before returning home to Massachusetts. After four years of pain and a diminished quality of life, he made the difficult decision to have doctors amputate his lower left leg.

“It was a fight,” Korona said earlier this year. “But I wanted to keep my life.”

He explained that the type of amputation he underwent left him feeling a phantom limb, regarded as pain and sensation in the area that no longer exists.

Getting around at home was difficult.

The home built in Derry for Korona, his wife Chelsea and their baby features more than 40 major special adaptations such as widened doorways for wheelchair access, a roll-in shower, and kitchen amenities that include pull-down shelving and lowered countertops.

The home will also help with mobility and safety issues associated with a traditional home, including navigating a wheelchair through narrow hallways or reaching for cabinets that are too high.

Derry was chosen as the home site by the Korona family. The home will be a donation to the family, free and clear thanks to Homes For Our Troops and many supporters and donations.

In a statement, U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) said she was sorry she couldn’t attend the key ceremony, but sent regards to the Korona family.

“Veterans sacrifice bravely in defense of our values and the enduring concept of freedom that is our very core,” Hassan said in her statement. “We owe it to Sgt. Korona and to all veterans to build a country that is ever worthy of their service and sacrifice. That includes doing everything we can to provide the support that veterans and their families deserve and have earned.”

Hassan also credited Homes For Our Troops for the support offered to veterans like Korona.

“Your mission to support veterans who have experienced severe injuries is admirable — helping deliver opportunity and improve the lives of those who have given so much on behalf of all Americans.”

After Korona received the keys to the house, a blue light procession made up of members of Derry’s fire and police departments, Salem police and Londonderry police escorted the family to the new home.

Homes For Our Troops has built hundreds of homes all over the country to support veterans and their families.

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