HAMLIN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - "Faith, family, friends and the community" are helping U.S. Army National Guard Sgt. (ret.) Eric Lund as he recovers from the wounds of war and seeks to come home.
That was among the messages shared last weekend at a groundbreaking for Lund's Helping a Hero home in Hamlin Township, according to the Ludington Daily News.
Lund lost both arms in the war in Afghanistan in May 2012. He was honored with a gathering of folks committed to help create an adaptive home for him.
In a Saturday, June 28, photo, retired U.S. Army National Guard Sgt.Eric Lund, left, who lost his arms in the war in Afghanistan in May 2012, listens to one of his sports heroes, Jordan Morgan, formerly of the University of Michigan basketball team, tell him it is an honor to be at the groundbreaking ceremony for a Helping a Hero adaptive home for Lund in Hamlin Township, Mich. “Faith, family, friends and the community” are helping Lund as he recovers from the wounds of war and seeks to come home. That was among the messages shared last weekend at a groundbreaking for Lund’s Helping a Hero home according to the Ludington Daily News.
As shovels dug into the dirt at the home site, the crowd gathered shouted "Welcome home, Eric" and waved American flags.
Major General Burton Francisco thanked Lund for his service and told the crowd he was just in Kabul, Afghanistan, and that it is safer today because of Lund's service.
"Kabul, the last time I was there, it was nighttime and when you flew around, everything was completely dark, you didn't really see much of anything," Francisco said. "(Now), Kabul is vibrant, lights are on, people are in the streets, people are freer than they have ever been in Afghanistan because of soldiers just like you (pointing to Eric) that have been willing to go over to fight the Taliban to create that."
"The future may be uncertain, but I can tell you right now the present is one hell of a lot better than it was many years ago because of soldiers just like you, so thanks."
Francisco met Lund while he was recovering at the Army's medical center in San Antonio, Texas, and noted the Lund family impressed him and inspired him. The general said he knew once Lund overcame his medical hurdles, he would be OK because of that strong family support.
Lund and Magee family members were at the groundbreaking in force as a measure of that support.
Another main message of the day: Lund will celebrate when a second Helping a Hero home is built in Michigan and he is able to help with that cause.
Meredith Iler, chair of Helping a Hero, said applications are being taken for a second home in Michigan for a wounded warrior and are available at the organization's website, www.helpingahero.org.
"I'm sure that everyone who knows Eric well will know his happiest moment will be when we build the second house in Michigan is built," said Budde Reed of the Mason County Veterans Endowment Fund.
Lund's aunt Melissa Boggs said he wouldn't have wanted to accept the home unless he could do something in return, and that return service is "trailblazing" the way for a second wounded veteran in Michigan to receive a Helping a Hero adaptive home.
She has taken on the volunteer role as Michigan chair for the organization to help the Texas-based group provide homes for wounded veterans in this state. Eric Lund's home, expected to be completed by Christmas, is the first.
Much help is still needed, from the foundation to the framing.
To learn more about how to donate or help in some way or to apply for a home, visit www.helpingahero.org.
"I have had so much help and support it just blows me away," said Melissa Boggs, Lund's aunt who is spearheading the home-build. "The community has just opened their hearts and they're giving their time to make sure this goes smoothly."
Going through the project has caused the family to revisit Lund's injuries and reflect on how far he's come in recovery.
"We're just so grateful," Boggs said.
From the Helping a Hero organization's perspective, "Everything is going phenomenally. We love having Melissa (as the Michigan chair and leader of the home project). She's definitely the right leader and we're just thrilled," said Meredith Iler.
The groundbreaking kicked off the July 4 holiday week just right. The week will continue with welcome home ceremonies for heroes in Texas.
"It's awesome to get to watch the hero walk through that door," Iler said.
The goal is to complete Lund's house by Christmas.