Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Community Finishes Dream Veteran Started

After Iraq veteran's death, a Thanksgiving gift
Lansing State Journal
Ken Palmer
November 25, 2015
Melanie Newcombe and daughter Teegan, 9, talk with members of Faith Works and Operation: Come H.O.M.E. in their house in Ionia on Tuesday. Newcombe's husband Brandon, a Marine, bought the house for the family to fix up and live in. Brandon died on May 16, 2014, but the two Michigan non profits teamed up to finish the work on the house. (Photo: Dave Wasinger/LSJ)
IONIA - Iraq war veteran Brandon Newcombe spent much of the last year of his life remodeling an old house in Ionia for himself and his family.

Before he finished, he lost his battle with the demons unleashed by post-traumatic stress disorder. Newcombe took his own life in May of 2014.

"There is so much blood, sweat and tears in this house," his widow, Melanie Newcombe, said on Tuesday in the newly refinished second level of the house, where she and her daughter, Teegan, 9, finally have their own bedrooms. "He worked from sunup to sundown on this house for us. He wanted Teegan and I and him to be in this house together."

Volunteers came together after Brandon Newcombe's death to finish the house. On Tuesday, they presented Melanie and Teegan with a gift card for furniture and a unique four-sided wooden plaque designed to preserve his memory. The plaque, made of Michigan maple and purple heart wood from Brazil, is designed to be taken apart to make two memorials.

"Tonight was part of the healing process, not just for me but for Melanie, Teegan and everyone involved," said Eric Calley, an Iraq veteran who had known Newcombe since high school and mentored him in Ionia County's veterans court. "(We) designed that plaque especially for Teegan and Melanie. When Teegan gets older and moves out of the house, she can take that with her in memory of her dad. When she comes back home, she can bring it back and make it whole again."
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