DERRY — An Army Ranger will get a big welcome to town with a new home and a new life.
Sgt. Tom Block, a U.S. Army Ranger with the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment is receiving a brand new home in Derry located off Walnut Hill Road, thanks to a collaborative effort between Jared Allen's Homes for Wounded Warriors, New England Regional Council of Carpenters, North and South Construction, and many other sponsors and supporters.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held July 10 at the site in East Derry with construction supporters, Block, his wife Janine and 9-month-old son Colton attending.
Block, a Minnesota native, was severely wounded by an improvised explosive device while on his fourth combat rotation on Oct. 6, 2013.
He was part of a joint task force that prevented a high profile suicide bombing attack in Kandahar Province in Afghanistan, wounded when the bomber detonated herself while in close proximity to the task force.
Block lost his right eye and most of his vision in the other, and also sustained severe leg injuries and shrapnel wounds across his body as a result of the explosion.
Following a grueling recovery and rehabilitation regiment, Block was selected to be a home recipient through Jared Allen's Homes for Wounded Warriors program.
The Derry home is one of seven home projects currently underway across the nation. The Walnut Hill property is about 27 acres and will be the site of a new home that will be handicapped accessible and built specifically for Block's individual needs.
Jared Allen's Homes for Wounded Warriors is based in Arizona and was founded in 2009 by four-time NFL defensive end Jared Allen, who returned home from a USO visit to military bases in the Middle East and saw all the sacrifices soldiers were making. That lead to the mission to raise money to build and remodel handicap accessible homes for those soldiers needing help.
Jared Allen's Homes Executive Director Alex Karalexis said Block is well deserving of this honor, adding the program wants to help those veterans in need and offer a new life start.
"We want to positively impact the daily lives of veterans," he said. "Building homes was the best direction."
Once Block was selected to receive a home, Karalexis said the process moved forward with securing the property, getting all the building permits in place and then designing the home with the veteran in mind.
He credited all those involved in the process, from the early stages up through the final product.
"It takes a village," Karalexis said. "We are very excited to be doing this."
Tom Flynn, executive secretary/treasurer of New England Regional Council of Carpenters, said building a home for Block is a great way to honor those men and women who serve.
"Union carpenters are honored to be part of this project for Sgt. Block and his family who have given so much for our country."
It also becomes a personal story along the way for those involved.
"We watched you grown, through trials to get to this point," Karalexis told Block during the ceremony. "We adore you, we love you and wish you the absolute best."
For Block, it's a blessing to have the support.
"They put the power in my hands to design my home," he said. "This whole process has been nothing short of amazing. And let get this house built, I'm excited."