‘Overwhelmed’ vet gets new home

March 19, 2011 • Local News

Ernie Burgos, a disabled veteran who is preparing to move into a brand new home built by a community of volunteers, shakes hands with Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., on Friday. Pearce was one of the many individuals who helped to support the project. (Matt Arco Photo)

A disabled veteran who said he had previously all but given up, was nothing but in high spirits Friday as a community of volunteers who helped build him a new home were there to present him the keys to the front door.

Ernie Burgos described being “overwhelmed” about being able to move into his brand new house, after he spent years sleeping on a recliner in the far corner of his living room. It was the only spot in the 1,500-square-foot home not damaged by water and was habitable.

“I was giving up and I realize now that’s not the thing to do,” he said. “I’ve never dreamt of anything like this in my entire life. … I’m overwhelmed (and) don’t know what to say.”

Burgos, an Army veteran, was injured in battle in 1977 and has been suffering from severe head trauma. The incident has caused him to be wheelchair -bound for 34 years and kept him from maintaining his home.

However, with a host of community volunteers — including thousands of dollars of support from Home Depot, Double A Construction, the Southeast New Mexico Veterans of America No. 968 and a wealth of other community members determined to give him a home — the veteran is preparing for comfortable living.

“This is another classic example of the community we have,” said Mayor Del Jurney, who attended the event.“They came together to do something good for those who served our country. It is exciting.” Congressman Steve Pearce, R-N.M., who also helped Burgos and the community volunteers in supporting the project, was there for the special occasion.

“This is just a stunning deal,” he said. “This is what it’s about.” Burgos said he’s waiting on final inspections before he can officially move in and plans to take up residence in the West Alameda home as soon as Monday.

He was sure to thank members of the veterans group, which he said helped jump start the build and saw it through to completion.

“The Roswell community really came together,” said Harry McGraw, president of the local SENMVVA. “It’s just a great day.”

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