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Wounder Soldier Gets Keys to Mortgage-Free Home

An Orlando-area soldier, permanently wounded in combat in Iraq in 2008, will receive the keys today to a mortgage-free home specially built for him and his family.

The project was the work of "Home at Last," a program that relies on donated services, materials and labor.

The "disability-friendly" home in Oakland has wider doorways, lower cabinets and other special features to accommodate U.S. Army Sgt. Jeffery Kelly, 29; his wife, Michelle, 24; and their daughters, Jade and Lindsey.

The 2,400-square-foot home at 218 W. Oakland boasts three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a two-car garage and a flag pole in the yard. The home is "a modest thank-you for Staff Sgt. Kelly's service and sacrifice," said William Criswell, 87, a Navy veteran of World War II who served as manager of the home-building project.

Kelly, a graduate of Westside Tech in Winter Garden, was serving his third tour of duty in Iraq in 2008 when his convoy was attacked with rocket-propelled grenades and mortar fire. He suffered severe injuries to his head, back and legs.

The home was the fourth built by the "Home At Last" program for a permanently injured, combat veteran in Central Florida. The organization, supported with donations to West Orange Habitat for Humanity, is at work on a fifth project -- a house for U.S. Army Cpl. Jeremy Voel and his family.

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