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Saturday, February 11, 2006

Home Project Offers Wounded Vet Hope

By Paul X. Rutz / American Forces Press Service

WOODBRIDGE, Va., Feb. 10, 2006 - As he maneuvered his wheelchair through rooms under renovation yesterday, former Army Staff Sgt. Eugene Simpson celebrated the purchase of his new house and raised awareness that the project still needs more help to reach its goal.

"It's a new beginning," said Simpson, who was paralyzed from the waist down in Tikrit, Iraq, April 7, 2004, by an improvised explosive device.

The house is in the first stages of remodeling to make it fully wheelchair accessible. With frames, kickboards and cabinets removed, Simpson can barely fit his wheelchair through doorways lined with ragged plaster and hallways covered with stock carpeting, and he can't enter his bathroom at all. That will all change with the rearrangement of a few walls.

"It's going to be different," Simpson said as he looked over the pipes in his kitchen. "It's going to be better."

Reconstruction will take about four months, depending on what type of volunteer efforts the group can muster here, said John Gonsalves. He's president and founder of Homes for Our Troops, a nonprofit group based in Massachusetts whose goal is to build quality housing for America's most severely wounded veterans.

"This is probably going to cost us another $75,000 on top of what we paid for the house," Gonsalves said. "As you can see, we're just getting started."

Funding for the project comes almost exclusively from donations from private citizens. The Department of Veterans Affairs does have a fund for housing wounded veterans, but it can only give half of what it costs the veteran to buy the house, and only up to $50,000. Since Homes for Our Troops does not charge veterans anything to build a house, the VA's charter does not allow it to help at all.

Therefore, a key to the group's success so far has been support from a wide variety of people. Celebrities such as musician Billy Joel and golfer Phil Mickelson have offered contributions and publicity, while people from across the nation have volunteered time, money, energy and building materials.

Craig Bennett, an architect based in McLean, Va., offered his services pro bono, doing the necessary drawings and structural studies for Simpson's house. Patrick Padburg, with 30 years' experience in construction, donated his time as project manager.

The American Legion Auxiliary here recently put on a fundraiser, raising over $10,000, Gonsalves said.

"There's a lot of great people in this country, and I've always known that," Gonsalves said. "But after starting Homes for Our Troops, it really hit home at how many great people there are."

The purchase of this house is a big milestone, he said. So far the group has been raising money and looking for a location near Woodbridge, a suburb in the Washington metropolitan area, for a year. Their first effort, looking for land on which to build a new house, took six months, and ended in disappointment.

"This was really a tough area to work," Gonsalves said of the real estate market here. "We looked around for some land, and I was able to find a two-acre parcel in the area, but it was $750,000.... That's why we decided to buy a home."

He said buying this house and refurbishing it will cost an estimated $435,000 when all is complete.

Since its inception in early 2004, Homes for Our Troops has completed six projects throughout the U.S., with four more currently in the works, including this one, but running his own nonprofit was something he never expected to be doing.

"This all got started after I saw a news report about a soldier who lost both of his legs in a Humvee attack," Gonsalves said. "At that point I was just looking to donate some time to an organization like Homes for Our Troops, and nobody had ever started one, so when I found that out, I decided to start one myself."

Gonsalves said his group has found connections with other nonprofits and troops in need through America Supports You, a Defense Department program facilitating grassroots support of America's servicemembers.

He said working on these projects has been a most rewarding experience, and he is thankful for the opportunity to give back to the nation's servicemembers.

"These veterans go out and put their lives on the line for you and I. They don't know us, so I think us not knowing them shouldn't have any impact," Gonsalves said. "We've got a country with a great amount of resources, and I just think that this is the least we can do."

Homes for Our Troops recently purchased this house in Woodbridge, Va., and has begun renovations to accommodate former Army Staff Sgt. Eugene Simpson's injuries. The sergeant's spine was severed by shrapnel when he was serving in Iraq. The renovation is expected to last four months. Photo by William D. Moss

John Gonsalves, Homes for Our Troops founder, and former Army Staff Sgt. Eugene Simpson review the floor plans and answer reporters' questions during the unveiling of a recently purchased home in Woodbridge, Va., Feb. 9. Photo by William D. Moss

Local media interview former Army Staff Sgt. Eugene Simpson, 28, in front of a recently purchased home in Woodbridge, Va., Feb. 9. Homes for Our Troops purchased the house and has begun renovations to accommodate Simpson's injuries. The sergeant's spine was severed by shrapnel when he was serving in Iraq. The renovation is expected to last four months. Photo by William D. Moss

Pam's Side Notes:
Homes for Our Troops is one of the charities that Cliff Knizley is donating the proceeds from his CD to.

This wonderful organization has also been of help to Sgt. Joey Bozik

To find out how you can help, go here.

FIRST LADY VISITS AVIANO — First lady Laura Bush speaks to U.S. airmen stationed at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Feb. 10, 2006, thanking them for their sacrifices and efforts in supporting the war on terrorism. Defense Dept. photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Bethann Caporaletti

In Today's News - Saturday, February 11, 2006

Quote of the Day
"I could as easily bail out the Potomac River with a teaspoon
as attend to all the details of the Army."
-- attributed to Abraham Lincoln

News of Note
Operation Iraqi Freedom
New Jill Carroll Deadline Set
Baghdad Car Bomb Kills 8
Iraqi Election Results Certified
Video: Iraq Update
Shi'ites seen nominating Abdul Mahdi as Iraq PM
2 Policemen, Iraqi Army Spokesman Slain

Homeland Security / War on Terror
Gaza Militants Release Kidnapped Egyptian Diplomat
FBI: Puerto Rico Terror Attack Thwarted
Indonesia Police Arrest Suspected Militant

Other Military News
Rumsfeld seeks stronger military ties with Tunisia

NSA Hearings
Judge Ponders NSA Deadline

Cartooning Muhammad
NATO, Mideast Partners Meet to Quell Cartoon Violence
Ahmadinejad rounds on West over cartoons
Thousands Protest Against Prophet Drawings

Brown: White House Fudging on Katrina Timeline
Bush Reassures Edgy GOP

XX Winter Olympics
Commencement Fillled with Passion
U.S. Slider Out 12 Skiers Nixed
Photo Essay: Opening Ceremony
Winter Olympics kick off in Italy
Cohen and Meissner exit Turin for secluded site
Danish curlers ready despite Islamic uproar
Four more skiers suspended; athletes blame altitude
Top U.S. skeleton team slider gets banned from Games
After elections, U.S. left without member on IOC board
Security reviewed amid concerns of Islamic protests
Rahlves skips second day of men's downhill training

Stiletto workout: part of the heeling process
Kangaroo Has Lip Surgery After Bite

Other News of Note
Khatami: Islamic World Ready for Change (This one is definitely worth reading)
Kosovo Elects New President
Bush Administration Announces Land Sale

Fox News
Russia Clash Kills 19
Md. Gov. Apologizes for Stem Cell-Nazi Remark
FBI: American Among Yemen Escapees
IRS Extends Filing Deadline for Hurricane Victims
Entwistle to Be Extradited - Video: Entwistle Murder Case
Ex-Official: White House Misused Pre-War Intelligence
Sharon in Danger - Doctors find digestive damage
New Scan Shows Sharon's Condition Unchanged
Doctors Put Feeding Tube in Sharon's Stomach
Toyota Hybrid Patents Probe
U.S. Trade Deficit Hits Record
Fossett Reaches N. America
A Peek Into Egyptian Tomb

Reuters: Top News
Sharon on verge of death: hospital source
Pictures Portfolio: Finbarr O'Reilly
Reuters wins World Press Photo award
Video: O'Reilly talks about his pictures
G8 calls for stable energy supplies - Video
Pope says science no threat to faith
Wireless to organize - and maybe save - lives
Intel to ship quad-core server chip in '07
Firms turn cyber sleuths with cell phone technology
Medical staff morale key in bird flu outbreak: expert
Whole grains good for the diabetic heart
Ford says may review dealer network
GM sales chief says automaker needs all brands
Qualcomm says Broadcom injunction move fails
Genentech, Biogen get OK for new lymphoma drug use
Sony BMG chairman, CEO swap jobs to resolve rift
Wireless to organize - and maybe save - lives
Acorda shares rise in market debut
GE's stock glide downward surprises some investors
Pfizer 2006 profit view disappoints
US stocks gain on Aon earnings and techs' rebound
Lionsgate pares losses after earnings miss
Salesforce shares off 9 pct on contract-loss talk
US yield curve inversion grows
Dollar may be building immunity to gap

AP World News
Friends, Family Eulogize Feminist Friedan
Pittsburgh Gets Boost From Super Bowl Win
Iran Rejects Call to Freeze Nuke Program
Hindu Religious Leader, 7 Others Killed
Witness: Lay, Skilling Knew About Worries
Judge May Halt Project to Protect Bird
Fleur-De-Lis Anchors Jeweler's Business
NATO Seeks Closer Ties With Middle East
Preval Faces Demanding Agenda in Haiti
Rebel Clashes Kill 19 in Southern Russia
Bush Reveals Surveillance Rationale
Pentagon Seeks 2.2 Percent Pay Increase
Air Force, Army Ink Airlift, UAV Deal

Department of Defense
Rumsfeld: Ike’s Words Define Challenges - Story
Rumsfeld: Terrorists Continue to Kill, Continue to Fail
U.S., British Defense Chiefs Praise NATO
Western Anbar Province on the Right Track - Story Transcript Video
Progress Being Made on Iraqi Reconstruction
First Lady Thanks Troops at Aviano Air Base - Story
Senate Confirms Edelman to Top Policy Post - Story

Embedded Trainers Mentor Afghan Soldiers - Story
NATO Troops Learn Lifesaving Techniques - Story
Field Hospital Moves From Tents to Trailers - Story
Central-South Division Gets New Commander - Story
Task Force Aids Hunt for Escaped Terrorists - Story

Iraqi Soldiers Aid Flood Victims in Jemuria Ula
Airmen to Supplement MP Unit at Tikrit Base
Iraqi Soldiers Get Renovated Theater, Clinics
Navy Helo Unit Supports British Troops in Iraq
Iraqis Bring Combat Experience to Training

Troops Celebrate Super Bowl at FOB Orgun-E
U.S. Army Doctors Aid Badly Burned Infant

Deployed Airman Sets Refueling Goal - Story

Operation Provides Mobile Homes
Web Site Links Troops, Supporters

Insurgents Nabbed After Attack
Bush Thanks Poles for Support
Iraqis Aid Coalition
Soldiers Find Roadside Bombs
Terrorist Bombs Kill 5 Iraqis
Casey: Violence Not Normal
Fact Sheet: Progress and Work Ahead
Report: Strategy for Victory in Iraq
Iraq Daily Update
This Week in Iraq (pdf)
Multinational Force Iraq
Eye on Iraq Update (pdf)
State Dept. Weekly Iraq Report (pdf)
'Boots on the Ground' Audio Archive
Iraq Reconstruction

Afghans Evacuated for Treatment
ANP Open Family Response Unit
Afghan Workers Improve School
Taliban Detained; Cadets Train
Coalition Achieving Goals
Afghanistan Update

LA Skyscraper Was Terrorist Target
Bush: Must Unite to Fight Terror
U.S. Soldier, 2 Marines Killed
NATO Meetings Begin in Italy
Rumsfeld Italy for NATO Meetings
Wis., Neb. WMD Teams Certified
Fact Sheet: War on Terror
Fact Sheet: Terror Plots Disrupted
Waging and Winning the War on Terror
Terrorism Timeline
Terrorism Knowledge Base

Senior NCOs Wrap Up Conference
Recruiting Momentum Continues
University Honors JCS Chairman
Officials: Army Is Not Broken
Rumsfeld Topic: Budget, QDR
National Guard, Reserve Update

Officials Identify Marine Casualty - Story

Al Azamiyah Al Basrah Al Hillah Al Karkh Al Kazimiyah Al Kut An Nasiriyah Baghdad Baqubah Mosul Najaf Nineveh Tall Kayf

Bost/Laskar Ghurian Herat Kabul Qandahar


Today in History
660BC - Traditional founding of Japan by Emperor Jimmu Tenno
0385 - Oldest Pope elected; Siricius-bishop of Tarragona
0731 - St Gregory II ends his reign as Catholic Pope
0824 - St Paschal I ends his reign as Catholic Pope
1531 - Henry VIII recognized as supreme head of the Church in England
1543 - Battle at Wayna Daga Ethiopian/Portugese troops beat Muslim army; Karel/Henry VIII sign anti-French covenant
1573 - 1st European, Francis Drake sees the Pacific (from Panamá)
1575 - King Frederick of Denmark offers island of Hveen to Tycho Brahe
1720 - Sweden & Prussia sign peace (2nd Treaty of Stockholm)
1752 - Pennsylvania Hospital, the 1st hospital in the US, opened
1766 - Stamp Act declared unconstitutional in Virginia
1768 - Samuel Adams letter, circulates around American colonies, opposing Townshend Act taxes
1790 - Society of Friends petitions Congress for abolition of slavery
1793 - Prussian troops occupy Venlo Netherlands
1794 - 1st session of US Senate open to the public
1808 - Anthracite coal 1st burned as fuel, experimentally, Wilkes-Barre PA
1809 - Robert Fulton patents the steamboat
1811 - President Madison prohibits trade with Britain for 3rd time in 4 years
1812 - Massachusetts Governor Gerry signs a redistricting bill-the 1st "gerrymander"
1814 - Norway's independence proclaimed
1852 - 1st British public female toilet opens (Bedford Street London)
1854 - Major streets lit by coal gas for 1st time
1858 - 1st apparition of Mary to 14-year-old Bernadette of Lourdes France
1861 - US House unanimously passes resolution guaranteeing noninterference with slavery in any state
1873 - Spanish Cortes fires king Amadeus I
1889 - Meiji constitution of Japan adopted; 1st Diet convenes in 1890
1895 - Georgetown became part of Washington DC
1898 - Owen Smith of North Carolina, AME Zion minister, named minister to Liberia
1907 - De Master's Dutch government resigns; Passenger ship Larchmont sinks by Block Island - 322 die
1908 - Heemskerk's government begins in Holland
1916 - Emma Goldman arrested for lecturing on birth control
1919 - Friedrich Ebert (SPD), elected President of Germany
1922 - US intervention army leaves Honduras
1926 - Tokelau (Union) islands in south Pacific transfers to New Zealand
1928 - 2nd Winter Olympics games opens in St Moritz, Switzerland
1929 - Vatican City (world's smallest country) made an enclave of Rome
1935 - 1st US airplane flight with auto slung beneath the fuselage, New York
1936 - Pumping begins to build Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay
1941 - Lieutenant-General Erwin Rommel arrives in Tripoli; Sicherheitsdienst complains about Dutch anti German sentiments
1942 - "Archie" comic book debuts
1943 - General Eisenhower selected to command the allied armies in Europe; Transport nr 47 departs with French Jews to Nazi-Germany
1944 - German troops re-conquer Aprilia Italy; U-424 sunk off Ireland
1945 - 1st gas turbine propeller-driven airplane flight tested, Downey, CA; Yalta agreement signed by FDR, Churchill & Stalin
1948 - John Costello follows Eamon Da Valera as premier of Ireland
1951 - Kwame Nkrumah wins 1st parliamentary election on Gold coast (Ghana)
1953 - President Eisenhower refuses clemency appeal for Rosenberg couple; Russia breaks diplomatic relations with Israel
1958 - Marshal Chen Yi succeeds Chu En-lai as Minister of Foreign affairs; Ruth Carol Taylor is 1st African-American woman hired as flight attendant
1961 - Robert C. Weaver sworn in as Administrator of the Housing and Home Finance Agency with then highest federal post held by a Black; Trial of Adolf Eichmann begins in Jerusalem
1963 - CIA Domestic Operations Division created
1964 - Greeks & Turks begin fighting in Limassol, Cyprus; Taiwan drops diplomatic relations with France
1968 - Jeffrey Kramer survives 76 meter jump, Washington Bridge, Hudson River, NY; Israeli-Jordan border fight; Madison Square Garden III closes; Madison Square Garden IV opens (New York NY)
1970 - Japan becomes 4th nation to put a satellite (Osumi) in orbit
1971 - US, UK, USSR, others sign Seabed Treaty outlawing nuclear weapons
1974 - Titan-Centaur test launch fails
1975 - Margaret Thatcher defeats Edward Heath for Conservative leadership
1976 - Clifford Alexander, Jr., confirmed as 1st Black Secretary of the Army
1978 - China lifts a ban on Aristotle, Shakespeare, & Dickens
1978 - EOKA organization disbands in Cyprus
1979 - Iran's premier Bakhtiar resigns, Ayatollah Khomeini seizes power
1981 - Polish premier Jozef Pinkowski replaced by Wojciech Jaruzelski
1984 - 10th space shuttle mission (41-B)-Challenger 4-returns to Earth
1985 - Jordan king Hussein & PLO leader Arafat sign accord
1986 - Rights activist Anatoly Scharansky released by USSR, leaves country; Iran begins Fajr-8 offensive against Iraq
1987 - Philippines constitution goes into effect
1988 - Anthony M. Kennedy appointed to the Supreme Court
1990 - Nelson Mandela (political prisoner-27 years) freed in South Africa
1991 - UNPO, Unrepresented Nations & People Organization forms in Hague Netherlands
1992 - F-16 jet crashes at residential district of Hengelo Netherlands (No deaths)
1993 - Janet Reno selected by Clinton as US Attorney General
1994 - Space shuttle STS-60 (Discovery 18), lands
1995 - Space shuttle STS-63 (Discovery 19), lands
1998 - Lyrics to "Candle in the Wind 1997" auctioned for $442,500
1999 - Pluto is once again the farthest planet from the sun in our solar system

1535 - Gregory XIV [Niccolò Sfondrati], Roman Catholic pope (1590-91)
1776 - Joannis Capodistrias, Greek Governor of Troezen (1827-31)
1812 - Alexander Hamilton Stephens, Confederate Vice President; Benjamin Franklin Sands Commander (Union Navy), died in 1883
1829 - William Anderson Pile, Union Brevet Major General
1833 - Melville Weston Fuller, 8th chief justice
1840 - Sanuel Dana Greene, Union Naval Lieutenant Commander
1847 - Thomas Alva Edison, Light bulb inventor (held 1200 patents)
1898 - Leo Szilard, Hungarian physicist/A-bomb worker/peace activist
1904 - Henry R. LaBouisse, headed UNICEF (1965-79); Sir Keith Holyoake, New Zealand PM (1960-72)
1906 - Denis Barnett. British air chief marshal
1920 - Farouk I Cairo, last King of Egypt (1936-52)
1921 - Lloyd Bentsen (Senator-TX) (1988 Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee)
1925 - Peter Berger, British Vice-Admiral
1932 - Dennis Skinner. MP
1938 - General Manuel Antonio Noriega, Panamanian General/dictator (1983-1990)
1941 - Jeremy Mackenzie, General
1942 - James Couchman, MP
1944 - Michael G. Oxley (Representative-OH)
1950 - Earnest Jim Istook (Representative-OK)
1953 - Stephen D. Thorne, Lieutenant Commander USN/astronaut
1960 - Richard A. Mastracchio, astronaut

0641 - Heraclius, emperor of Byzantium (610-641), dies at about 65
0731 - Gregory II Greek-Syrian Pope
0821 - Benedict of Aniane, saint
0824 - Paschal I, Italian Pope (817-24)
0867 - Theodora the Saint, beauty queen/empress of Byzantine
1503 - Elizabeth of York, Consort of King Henry VII, dies on 38th birthday
1543 - Ahmed Gran, sultan of Adal, dies in battle
1554 - Lady Jane Grey, deposed Queen of England, beheaded after 9 day rule at 17
1650 - René Descartes, philosopher ("I think therefore I am")
1868 - Léon Foucault, discoverer of 1st physical proof of Earth's rotation
1870 - Jacob M. de Kempenaer, Dutch Minister of Internal Affairs (1848-49), dies at 76
1899 - George Morgan, 1st English motorist to die in a motor accident
1901 - Milan I, king of Serbia, dies at 56
1931 - Charles Algernon Parsons British inventor (steam turbine), dies at 76
1940 - John Buchan, 1st Baron Tweedsmuir, Governor-General of Canada (1935-40)
1941 - Rudolf Hilferding, German economist/Minister of Finance (SPD), suicide at 63
1945 - J.S.H. Lokerman Dutch resistance fighter, dies in Neugengamme
1971 - Whitney Young., Jr., National Urban League director, drowns in Nigeria
1973 - Hans D. Jensen, German physicist (Nobel prize 1963), dies at 65
1977 - Louis J.M. Beel, Dutch premier (1946-48, 58-59), dies at 74

Reported Missing in Action
Shumaker, Robert H., USN (CA); F8D shot down, released by DRV February, 1973 - retired as a Rear Admiral - alive and well as of 1998

Van Putten, Thomas, US Army (MI); escaped April, 1969 - had a leg amputated as a result of injuries sustained in captivity - alive as of 1998

Kroske, Harold W., Jr., US Army SF (NJ); injured in ground fight and believed KIA, body not recovered

Zukowski, Robert J., USAF (IL); F105D shot down, remains returned 1993 and 1996 - ID'd October, 1996

Kieffer, William Lewis, Jr., USAF (MD); A1E shot down, KIA, body not recovered