SARASOTA -- For the last eight months, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Juan Roldan has lived in a Tampa apartment with his mother and daughter, just a short distance from James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital.
Their living quarters consist of two inflatable mattresses, a fold-out bed for his 5-year-old daughter and a patio table with plastic chairs that serves as their dinning table.
In 2006, Roldan suffered a traumatic brain injury and lost both legs above the knee when his vehicle was hit by an explosive charge in Iraq. Over the last five years, he has undergone multiple surgeries.
On Wednesday, Roldan received aid that will help him move into a new home built for him in Parrish.
The Home Builders Association of Manatee-Sarasota presented Roldan with more than $15,000 to purchase new furniture from DeSears Appliance & Furniture and Ashley Furniture for his family's new four-
bedroom house. The house was completed in December by the Homes For Our Troops organization, but it remains unfurnished.
Roldan has been unable to move in because of additional surgeries, including one Monday.
"It is one less thing that I would have to worry about, trying to figure out how I'm going to afford the things that people need in their homes," Roldan said. "I don't have anything right now."
Roldan, 28, and his mother, Carmen Roldan, who will live with him along with his daughter, met with members of HBA at DeSears to select the furniture. Together, they scanned living room sets, sat in reclining chairs and viewed big screen televisions.
"I'm looking for a white bed for my daughter," he said, smiling. "She's into the princess thing."
"I'm very happy," his mother said. "He has his own house and now he's ready to move into the house."
The money consists of $4,000 raised during the HBA's annual fishing tournament, along with donations from churches and other people who heard Roldan's story. Ashley Furniture, a partner company to DeSears, donated $500 and DeSears will sell Roldan furniture at its employee discount rate and will deliver and assemble the furniture free of charge.
Alan Anderson, executive vice president of the HBA, is a Vietnam veteran. He took special interest in Roldan's situation.
"I know it is important that we do what we can for our veterans," Anderson said.
"We thought this was the best way we could take our donation from the Home Builders Association and see what we could do to build that into something that would be meaningful."
Home For Our Troops contacted Anderson in 2010 and asked if the HBA was interested in joining building the house. Members of the HBA donated labor and materials for infrastructure along with funds.
"Our society needs to have some reverence for the veterans and some respect," Anderson said. "Juan gave up a normal life and he deserves our support."
When Anderson handed Roldan an envelope of money, he extended his arm for a handshake. Roldan instead reached from his wheelchair and pulled Anderson in close for a hug.
"It means the world to me," Roldan said. "It means the world."
Nick Williams, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411 ext. 7049. Follow him on Twitter @_1NickWilliams.