Video: Soldier finds his fortune in coming home

By Bob Faw Correspondent
NBC News
updated 11/14/2006 7:21:23 PM ET 2006-11-15T00:21:23

Never — not on his best day, or worst — did Kyle Burleson ever imagine being so crippled, or fortunate.

"It's kind of overwhelming, I guess," he says.

Growing up, hunting in the Louisiana woods nearby, or playing high school football, he wanted nothing more than to enlist in the Army. And he served with distinction in Iraq until August 2004, when a sniper's bullet shattered his spine.

"It was hard for them to tell me he would be paralyzed, forever," recalls his wife, Kristi.

Just 21, with two children, Burleson was now a quadriplegic.

"I didn't do anything special," he says. "I just got shot."

But this winter, convinced Burleson is special, a group which relies on donations to build homes for severely wounded veterans began building a home for him.

"I think it's just important that we let them know we care about them," says John Gonsalves, president and founder of Homes for our Troops.

It was a labor of love. Local builders donated many of the building materials.

"He's not a hero for getting shot," says contractor Bob Simpson. "He's a hero for volunteering."

The windows were supplied by corporate sponsors. Shrubbery came from a local church group. All the furniture and granite were given in gratitude.

"[All] for somebody who's fighting for my freedom," says contractor Chas Caple.

They gave Kyle Burleson freedom to do more and be more than anywhere else imaginable.

"[I'm] grateful," says Burleson. "[It] makes things a lot easier."

"It's hard not to sit here and go, 'Wow, this is actually ours,'" says Kristi. "This is just 100 million good blessings, allotted into one."

Here, where a victim is also a beneficiary and the cruelty of war is partially offset by the kindness of strangers.

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