On the 20th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the War on Terror left an indelible mark on thousands of men and women who came home with terrible injuries, but a former soldier is getting a new lease, on life, in a home built specifically for him.
On a blustery Spring day, near Tomball, in a relatively new neighborhood, the Patriot Guard rumbled to a stop while a crowd of dozens waited for retired Army corporal Nick Clark to arrive, with his family, for a Texas welcome.
Since 2006, the Houston non-profit organization Helping a Hero has provided support for service members severely injured in the War on Terror, often by building adapted homes that meet their unique needs.
Cpl. Clark lost a leg in an ambush, while serving in Afghanistan, and got his first taste of Texas while being treated in San Antonio, at Brooke Army Medical Center’s Center for the Intrepid.
Now, the North Carolina man is coming back to stay.
“You understand the difference between Texas and everywhere else,” says Clark. “People are just different, here; they’re friendlier; they get it; they love Texas for a reason, and they brag about being from Texas for a reason.”
With this groundbreaking, Helping a Hero has built near 200 homes across the country. Each of them is designed to empower the new homeowner.
“We really want to say, ‘What is it that you could do tomorrow, if you were entrusted with the asset today, to do it? That you could help you serve for the next 20, 30, 40 years,” says Helping a Hero founder Meredith Iler.
Lennar Homes will build the single-story, accessible home for the Clarks, while Toyota Financial and Bass Pro Shops will pay for the project.
“We can adapt it just a little bit to make a home a little more livable for them, versus a different home that’s not really suited for what they can do,” says Lennar Homes’ Michael Reamer.
Once construction begins, it’ll take about six months to build the Clark home, before the young family can move to Texas permanently, and Clark says he can begin paying back the warm welcome he has received here.
“I want to be involved in everything, because I really feel like paying it forward is the best thing you can do with a second chance, and that’s what I’ve been given.”