Tonawanda News — It took three long years of rehabilitation and a whole community of volunteers, but Marine Cpl. Paul Schaus is finally home in North Tonawanda.
The 24-year-old native Western New York lost both of his legs and a finger in Afghanistan in 2009 when he stepped on a land mine. He barely survived the incident and spent years in military hospitals recovering from his injuries.
But when a national not-for-profit group Homes For Troops, which helps severely injured veterans, moved into the picture in the spring of 2011, Schaus was one step closer to independence.
And on Tuesday, amid friends, family and fellow military veterans, Schaus received the keys to his Sherwood Avenue home — a blue, and white four-bedroom ranch suited to the challenges he will continue to carry with him for the rest of his life.
Described by those who know him as a quiet and humble man — characteristics that the neighborhood itself appeared to possess — Schaus thanked his family and the organization before accepting ownership of the house from Home For Troops in front of a crowd onlookers who came to show their support.
“I’m not a big talker,” Schaus said, before later adding: “This is insane.”
With two simultaneous wars and hundreds of thousands of troops overseas in various capacities over a decade, more than 50,000 veterans have been wounded in the last 11 years, according to Dawn Teixeira, executive director of Home For Troops, who said her organization is presenting similar newly built structures to seven veterans across the country this week alone.
“We began this project with a build brigade in July,” she said. “Since that time we’ve experienced an outpouring of support from the community.”
That support included individuals like Jodie Buckley, Schaus’s cousin, who also works for the general contractor, Grand Jude Plumbing, the company that oversaw construction of the home.