One of the things that makes me proud about being an American this Fourth of July is the selfless volunteerism of my fellow citizens. One example of this is Operation: Coming Home, a non-profit partnership between members of the Triangle Veterans Association (TVA) and the Home Builders Association of Raleigh/Wake County, NC. These volunteers, numbering in the hundreds, have taken it upon themselves to build homes for severely wounded combat veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan… and then give them away.
I was honored to be in attendance when Sgt. Joey Bosik and his wife Jayme received the very first “hero home” in my neighborhood in 2008. Sgt. Stan Roberts and his wife Chrissy and their kids moved into the second “hero home” just around the corner from me in 2010. Sgt. Carlos Evans and his wife Rosemarie moved into the third “hero home;” Cpl. Richie Chavez the fourth.
Last week, I was on hand to watch Cpl. Cody Stanton receive keys to the fifth ‘hero home” in Holly Springs, NC.
Like all recipients before him, Cpl Stanton was combat-wounded. He lost both legs above the knee, and sustained other traumatic injuries to an IED. He’s still rehabilitating, and will be for a long time to come.
I’ll direct you to others to read up on the event itself. To say it was heartfelt and tear-stained is an understatement. The Wake County Sheriff, Donnie Harrison, made Cpl Stanton, an MP, an honorary reserve deputy. The Mayor responded by naming him Mayor for the day, and along with the town board, declared July as Cpl. Cody Stanton month. Not to be outdone, Stanton’s Lt. Col. made him battalion commander for the day. It was an outpouring of love, lightened a bit when “Deputy Lt. Col. Mayor Stanton” took the mic and said a few words. He choked up soon afterward. We all did.
His mom, Nancy, and his younger brothers and sister were there, and I don’t think there was a dry eye when Nancy got up out of her seat to come forward and hug the soldiers in Cody’s unit that applied tourniquets to his legs and saved his life, and who have been there for support every moment possible afterward.
In a few weeks, Cpl Stanton is going to jump out of a perfectly good airplane. He’d deployed before he’d had a chance to earn his wings as a member of the 82nd Airborne. He’s going to earn his wings, and they will be awarded in a special ceremony. I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if he ends up with the All Veteran Parachute Team along with some of the other heroes, jumping in keys to welcome another veteran home one day.
I can’t tell you enough how impressed I am with the hundreds of home builders and volunteers that make up Operation: Coming Home. From doing a house every other year in the beginning, to a house every year, to planning two homes a year for the next several years, they just keep giving. The American Volunteer Corps spun out of the volunteer spirit of the first hero home, and the Home Builder’s Association of Raleigh-Wake County just keeps pushing to see how much more they can do.
Government does a little for our veterans, but it is the freely given time, materials, labor, and love that makes these private sector volunteer efforts so amazing and heartfelt. I’m honored to have these veterans as my neighbors, and honored to live among such patriotic friends and Americans who give so much of themselves to recognize the sacrifices made for our freedoms.