Marine 'family' helps their own with home renovations
BEDFORD — Bernie Ruchin isn’t one to ask for help, but as a Marine he doesn’t have to.
“That’s the beauty of who we are as Marines,” Ruchin said. “It’s family. You don’t have to ask for help but they show up.”
Gunnery Sgt. Ruchin is a decorated World War II veteran who also served during the Korean War. It was a slip on the stairs that laid him up for seven months last October.
When Building Dreams for Marines heard what had happened, they renovated his bathroom to install a handicapped-accessible shower and bathroom facility. It was a godsend to Ruchin, who said he returned from rehab with his leg in a cast and almost reverted back to his time on the combat field when soldiers bathed in their helmets.
“The renovation they did for me here brings me back to a better quality of life,” Ruchin said.
It was the fifth project for Building Dreams for Marines, a nonprofit dedicated to modifying homes at no charge for Marines with physically limiting conditions.
Although Ruchin is a Building Dreams for Marines board member, it never occurred him to ask for help, said his companion Mariam Brown. The couple has lived in Bedford for 34 years.
“I think they were lovely to do it,” Brown said.
The $15,000 project took about three weeks to complete. Friends, Marines, local legislators and U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte attended a ribbon cutting ceremony at the home on Friday.
“No project touches me more than this one for my friend, Gunnery Sgt. Ruchin,” Ayotte said.
She praised Ruchin not only for his military service and time on the New York State Police force, but also for his work helping veterans.
“I think about what Bernie has done for this country at home and abroad. You are a true patriot,” Ayotte said.
Much of the renovation work was done by members of the Bravo Company. When Ruchin arrived in New Hampshire in the 1980s, he volunteered to help families of the Bravo Company Marines going to Desert Storm. He’s been part of their family ever since, Ruchin said, but the relationship really goes back to 1944. Ruchin said as he fought the Battle of Saipan, Baker Company, later renamed Bravo, was at his side.
Ruchin entertained his guests with colorful stories from his years of service and chatted with the Marines in attendance.
“For today I’m 18 again, I think, in my mind looking at these guys,” he said.