NORTH MERRICK (WABC) -- Three and a half years ago, a community on Long Island came together to welcome a hero back home from his service in Afghanistan. On Saturday, they welcomed him to his own home. Marine Corps. Corporal Kevin Vaughan got the keys to his new house in his hometown of North Merrick.
"It doesn't even seem like reality - it's too good to be true, but it is, and I love it," says Vaughan.
It has been a very long journey for Vaughan. During his second tour of duty in 2011, his armored vehicle struck an explosive device.
"I basically injured everything from my hip down, and lost everything below my left knee," he said.
Vaughan also suffered back and arm injuries, and spent 15 months at Walter Reed Military Hospital, where he endured several surgeries, and grueling rehabilitation. His new house was designed and built with all this in mind by the nonprofit, "Building Homes for Heroes". The Long Island-based organization builds houses that accommodate the physical challenges facing many veterans.
"It's amazing - there is so much technology in this house, it's going to be easy for me to get around, whether in a wheelchair or not," Vaughan adds.
The non-profit's founder joined Vaughan's friends, family and neighbors at the celebration, along with the volunteers and donors who made the project possible. They are all proud to give back to the young man, whose courage and sacrifice have inspired so many.
Vaughn says he is grateful for the new beginning in his new home.
"Thank you for sticking up for me, and taking care of me all these years I've been home," he said.
Since it was founded in 2006, Building Homes for Heroes has completed nearly 100 homes for injured veterans, and is on track to finish another 31 houses this year.
A very special homecoming for wounded Marine on Long Island