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Editorial: No one has forgotten injured veteran Joshua Bouchard

  • Marine Sergeant Joshua Bouchard, center, is greeted by his mother Mary Ann Hafford of CT, left, during a parade leading to Sgt Bouchard's new home in Granby on January 12, 2013. Homes for Our Troops and A. Crane Construction partnered together to build the home after Bouchard was badly injured in Afghanistan in 2009.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Marine Sergeant Joshua Bouchard, center, is greeted by his mother Mary Ann Hafford of CT, left, during a parade leading to Sgt Bouchard's new home in Granby on January 12, 2013. Homes for Our Troops and A. Crane Construction partnered together to build the home after Bouchard was badly injured in Afghanistan in 2009.

    SARAH CROSBY

  • Marine Sergeant Joshua Bouchard, center, is greeted by his mother Mary Ann Hafford of CT, left, during a parade leading to Sgt Bouchard's new home in Granby on January 12, 2013. Homes for Our Troops and A. Crane Construction partnered together to build the home after Bouchard was badly injured in Afghanistan in 2009.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Marine Sergeant Joshua Bouchard, center, is greeted by his mother Mary Ann Hafford of CT, left, during a parade leading to Sgt Bouchard's new home in Granby on January 12, 2013. Homes for Our Troops and A. Crane Construction partnered together to build the home after Bouchard was badly injured in Afghanistan in 2009.

    SARAH CROSBY

  • Marine Sergeant Joshua Bouchard, center, is greeted by his mother Mary Ann Hafford of CT, left, during a parade leading to Sgt Bouchard's new home in Granby on January 12, 2013. Homes for Our Troops and A. Crane Construction partnered together to build the home after Bouchard was badly injured in Afghanistan in 2009.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Marine Sergeant Joshua Bouchard, center, is greeted by his mother Mary Ann Hafford of CT, left, during a parade leading to Sgt Bouchard's new home in Granby on January 12, 2013. Homes for Our Troops and A. Crane Construction partnered together to build the home after Bouchard was badly injured in Afghanistan in 2009.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

Americans may not pay much attention to the war in Afghanistan, or support its continuation, but they have not forgotten what it means for fellow citizens to answer the call to military service and pay its price.

Perhaps no one knows that better than Joshua Bouchard, the 29-year-old Marine who lost one of his legs and suffered grievous spine and other injuries when an improvised explosive device detonated near his squad on deployment in Afghanistan in 2009. Bouchard, whose parents live in Granby, has spent three years fighting his way back to health, with long hospitalizations.

This past weekend, Bouchard raised the flag over a brand new home constructed for him through a remarkable venture led by a Taunton nonprofit, Homes for Our Troops, and aided by scores of volunteers, many associated with contracting companies that are members of Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Western Massachusetts. One, A. Crane Construction of Chicopee, served as project manager.

Houses don’t go up overnight. Bouchard was able to watch as the one-story home rose in Granby, as he continued living with his father, James, and stepmother, Sue. And this business of providing a home to a disabled veteran isn’t entirely new in the region. The group also led the effort to build a home for Sgt. Peter John Rooney III and his wife on Kinne Brook Road in Worthington that was completed in 2010.

For Bouchard, it’s clear that something special happened Saturday. When he guided his wheelchair down the drive of his new home to thank volunteers, he faced as many as 300 people who had gathered for the occasion.

After his years of recuperation, what Bouchard and others like him need and deserve most, we think it fair to say, is the independence and self-respect that a home of one’s own can bring. The new home’s design enables Bouchard to move about easily with a wheelchair and have access to his kitchen appliances, cabinets and bathrooms, including a roll-in shower. He will be able to take care of himself — a routine he lost in an explosion in Afghanistan.

While all this wouldn’t have happened without Homes for Our Troops, neither could it have been achieved without a deep well of community support. Granby residents raised enough money to cover 70 percent of the cost of the building lot and some construction financing, according to Homes for Our Troops Executive Director Dawn M. Teixeira.

That crowd of 300? All ages and walks of life, from what we can tell — led in by a motorcade and accompanied by the fanfare of bands and an honor guard. The flag Bouchard raised went up a pole paid for by local Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts.

While polls say Americans want this war ended, it’s clear some will go to great lengths to be sure its veterans are not forgotten.

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