JAMUL, Calif., (KGTV) — Nearly 200 volunteers helped to beautify an injured Navy Veteran’s new home in Jamul.
“I stepped on one of the IEDs, and that’s when I got blown up,” Petty Officer Christopher Andrieu told 10News.
He joined the Navy in 2007, and for his entire service, he has worked as an EOD (Explosive Ordinance Disposal) officer. But in 2013, when he and SEAL Team 5 were in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, he sustained a life-changing injury. Since then, even little things have become arduous tasks for the double amputee.
“To get the dishes down, I jump up on the counter if I’m not on my legs,” he chuckled.
Andrieu and his family now live in a small house in Claremont. But thanks to non-profit, Homes for Our Troops, he will soon be moving up the hill to much larger home in Jamul.
“It was my top choices for a lot, so I was really happy we got this,” Andrieu said.
The lot has a beautiful view of the small town and has a spacious half acre front yard. The home is not finished yet but has appliances and shelves built slightly lower to accommodate Andrieu.
It has been two years since Andrieu started the application process with Homes for Our Troops. One of the last big projects was the landscaping. That’s where the volunteers came in.
“It’s really cool to support who we want to be,” volunteer, Alex Kulik said. Kulik is a senior at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, hoping to become an EOD expert. He and nine other Midshipmen doing summer training in San Diego volunteered to help the non-profit with the project.
“I don’t think any of us has experienced what he has, and just to see his optimism, I think it should be able to push anyone,” Kulik said. “Military or non-military, to get through whatever their challenge may be, and come out with a smile in the end.“
Andrieu’s heroism and positivity drove the hundreds of volunteers to create a luxurious yard in just 55 minutes.
"It's a life-changing moment for a deserving veteran," Community Outreach Coordinator for Homes for Our Troops, Mell Barbosa, said.
“All the people who came out, I'd say most of them, I didn’t know beforehand,” Andrieu said. “I can’t even say it… it’s just awesome.”
Homes for our Troops is sprinting to the finish line. Andrieu will be at his move-in ceremony at his new home in exactly three weeks.