Local nonprofit and builder help bring a Vietnam vet home for Christmas

A carpenter removes Hector Madrid's old shower before installing a new American Disabilities Act-compliant shower. (KBAK/KBFX photo)

A Vietnam vet is back home in Bakersfield just in time for Christmas, thanks to a local nonprofit.

Hector Madrid fell and injured his back more than a year ago and had to have back surgery.

He spent the last 13 months in a care center as he recovered. Doctors would not release him unless he had an American Disabilities Act-compliant bathroom.

Tony Martinez, the vice president of Rebuilding Together Kern County, himself a Vietnam vet, is in a post-traumatic stress disorder group with Madrid.

“I talked to him during one of our sessions and he told me, ‘Tony, I’d love to go home for Christmas, but they won’t let me go because the doctors are afraid I’m going to injure my back again,” Martinez said. “So, I talked to my board and we said, let’s do this project.”

The organization received a USAA Bank grant for the project, he said.

Rebuilding Together Kern County and Lennar Home Builders came together on Monday to build that ADA-compliant bathroom and Madrid is home with his wife, Ruby Madrid, to celebrate the holidays.

Madrid said he couldn’t sleep the night before the build because he was so excited.

“It’s unbelievable,” Madrid said. “I can’t believe it. It’s really happening. This helps me – mind-wise – get on with my life a lot better.”

He will also get to celebrate his 70th birthday at home on Dec. 28.

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