NORTH MERRICK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A well-known charity for heroes is building a home for a U.S. Marine Corps veteran on Long Island.

“This is the greatest day of my life,” retired U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Kevin Vaughan said at the groundbreaking of his new mortgage-free home in North Merrick on Tuesday. “This is the greatest thing ever. Having this home here is like winning the lottery, if not better.”

Andrew Pujol, of Valley Stream-based Building Homes for Heroes, said the two-story, three-bedroom Cape Cod-style home — valued at about $550,000 — is being gifted to Vaughan, who lost a leg nearly three years ago when his vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan.

Vaughan’s new house will be furnished and handicap accessible, CBS 2’s Dana Tyler reported.

“I believe our founding fathers only hoped and prayed that our country would look like this today, where our communities and country come together to make it a better place for our veterans,” Pujol said.

Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray waived all building fees. Other businesses and organizations donated materials, labor and funds.

“It is the first home that Building Homes for Heroes is gifting to a veteran right here in the town of Hempstead,” Murray said.

Vaughan has received several military honors, including the Combat Action Ribbon, the National Defense Service Medal and the Purple Heart. He spent months recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and was later welcomed home with a parade.

Building Homes for Heroes hopes to have Vaughan’s house built by Christmas. The organization will provide homes to 28 wounded veterans this year — not only lifting the financial burden they face trying to start over, but also helping them be independent again.

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