Friday, 12 March 2010

Warm, Fuzzy Story of the Day: Operation Finally Home

CNN:
Reyes sustained severe blast injuries that led to his medical discharge; he's on 100 percent medical disability. Like many soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, Reyes, now 24, found the transition to civilian life difficult.
But he and a handful of other injured veterans are getting help from what may seem an unlikely source: a custom home builder in Houston, Texas.
Dan Wallrath recently presented Reyes and his wife with an unexpected gift: a home built especially for them, mortgage-free.


Wallrath spent 30 years making upscale clients' dream houses a reality. But he found a new mission in 2005 when he met with Steve Schulz about a very different type of project.
Schulz's 20-year old son, a U.S. Marine, had been gravely injured in Iraq. Schulz desperately needed to remodel his house to accommodate his son's wheelchair.


"I had no idea how I was going to pay for it," Schulz said. "I just knew that I had to get it done."
Wallrath went to advise Schulz on remodeling his house as a favor to a friend. It was a meeting that changed Wallrath's life.
He remembers Schulz showing him photos of his son Steven.
"He was a big, strapping Marine," Wallrath said. But the pictures he saw of Steven taken after his injury told a different story.
"He was ... half his size. It was so sad," he said. "It dawned on me that people are facing this all over the U.S."
Wallrath mobilized an army of carpenters, plumbers and suppliers who took on the remodeling job for free. They widened doorways, built a ramp to the back door and made the bathroom handicapped-accessible.
"Anything that needed to be done, Dan said, 'We'll take care of it,' " Schulz recalled. "It was just a huge, huge relief."
When the work on Schulz's home was complete, Wallrath realized he was just getting started.
"It really broke my heart to think [about] these young men and women," he said. He decided the best way he could help wounded veterans was by doing what he knew best: building them homes.


More information on Operation Finally Home available on their official site (click link).