This time of year, it is easy to see need all around. Soup kitchens. Food banks. Underprivileged kids whose family finances cannot otherwise afford Christmas. As an agency, we’d like to spotlight one more — wounded veterans or the widows of fallen warriors. In other words, those who have already made huge or ultimate sacrifices for all of us.
CNN ran (and is running) a remarkable hour-long special (December 8 and 15) about an inspirational non-profit out of Texas called Operation Finally Home. Dan Wallrath, the founder and CEO, is a custom home builder who was so moved by the needs of a young man returning disabled from military service that he launched this nationwide initiative to put as many deserving wounded veterans and their young families into mortgage-free homes custom built to ease their return home. Wallrath admits he has an impossible dream to hope them all, but he is hell-bent on helping as many of them as possible.
Newton first became aware of Operation Finally Home last summer when friends of our agency were announced as recipients of the first OFH home to be built in Wyoming. James Butz, retired Chief Petty Officer, USCG and his wife Donna, were nominated, vetted, and awarded the mortgage-free home because of their past and continued involvement in helping other veterans coming home. This deserving hometown hero served his nation proudly and was severely injured in the line of duty. Wounded in May 2003 while deployed under OPERATION NOBLE EAGLE boarding a Korean cargo tanker bound for the Middle East (suspected of having weapons components on board, possibly nuclear) off the coast of Hawaii; his right leg was smashed between vessels in heavy seas; he also injured his neck and back. Jim has undergone 19 surgeries and several bone infections, one of which was nearly fatal; he walks with a cane; he faces additional future surgeries and likely amputation in the years ahead. Jim and Donna both actively assist other veterans (injured or not) and their families to settle back into civilian life again.
McClure Custom Builders is managing the building of the first home with support from Wyoming Building Solutions. John and Robin McClure have thrown themselves into the effort full tilt. However, each and every one of Operation Finally Home’s homes requires financial support from the public. And the Butz home is hopefully the first of many in Wyoming and one more in a long string of an ever-growing list nationwide.
Operation Finally Home could use individual donations, as well as corporate sponsors, in its mighty endeavor. In the spirit of holiday giving, we encourage you to contribute here (and specify WYOMING to earmark your gift for Wyoming’s first of many homes for wounded veterans and their families).