On Saturday, September 24th accompanied by an escort fit for a hero, Sergeant Austin Burchard arrived to a crowd of neighbors, dignitaries and supporters waiting with anticipation to welcome him and his family to their brand new home. On a beautiful fall morning, the Burchard family was presented the keys to the home that would provide SGT Burchard with the freedom and independence he deserves – the same freedom and independence he and his fellow soldiers fight for every day for the rest of us. In 2010, the Massachusetts based non-profit Homes for Our Troops picked Sgt. Burchard and his wife Donna out of hundreds of applicants applying to have homes built at no cost to them. The charity has built and donated more than 60 specially designed homes for severely injured veterans since 2004. Its web of professional building partners includes Tampa Bay’s Southern Crafted Homes. This association led to Highwoods Contracting Corporation (HCC) and Sims Crane being brought on board to build the Burchard’s new home in the Lutz community of Stonebrier.
Sergeant Burchard was left a paraplegic due to severe injuries caused by a gunshot wound while manning a post in a gun turret in Wardack Province, Afghanistan, on March 19, 2009. This new home, which goes beyond ADA compliance, features open floor plans, automatic door openers, hard-surfaced floors, roll-in showers, roll-under cooktops, sinks, and more, and will allow him to live his life more independently.