By Kim Hibbs
Saturday night, we had the incredible honor of partnering with Operational FINALLY HOME and the St. Louis Cardinals to surprise US Army Specialist Heath Howes and his family with the news that they'll be moving into a mortgage-free home in the St. Louis area in 2017.
The Howes family traveled to Busch Stadium in St. Louis from their home in Oklahoma to throw out the first pitch that evening as part of a military recognition night. After throwing out the first pitch, field announcer John Ulette asked the Howes family to turn their attention to the Jumbotron on the outfield, where a video played, giving them the good news.
Spc. Howes served in Afghanistan, enduring a number of hardships during his deployment. In 2012, his vehicle was struck by a 200-pound improved explosive device during a vehicle patrol. The attack took the life of his best friend and another soldier in the vehicle. Howes and his captain both sustained life-threatening injuries. Since his return, Spc. Howes has worked to recover from a traumatic brain injury, nerve damage, fractured ribs, a collapsed lung and more. He continues to deal with the impact of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He was honorably discharged in 2014 and has received multiple awards including a Purple Heart, an Afghanistan Campaign Medical with two stars, and a NATO Medal.
As he works to recover, his wife Savannah must drive him to the nearest VA medical facility, which is two and a half hours away from their home in Oklahoma. She must also assist him with his wheelchair when it's needed. The Howes family hoped to relocate to the St. Louis area to be nearer to the VA Medical Facility and other support they have in the area. With this donation, made possible by Operation Finally Home and many of our partners, the Howes family will see that wish come true.
The new home will be completed in 2017.
Saturday's Busch Stadium surprise was not one that we'll soon forget. We're thankful for the chance to partner, and to give back to a family that so deserves this and so much more. We'll share more details about the project as we move forward in the coming months – including ways that the community might get involved.
In the meantime, we encourage you to learn more about Operation FINALLY HOME, a nonprofit whose mission is to provide custom-built, mortgage-free homes to America's military heroes and the widows of the fallen who have sacrificed so much to defend our freedom and values. Operation FINALLY HOME partners with corporate sponsors, builder associations, builders, developers, individual contributors, and volunteers to help America’s military heroes and their families transition to the home front by addressing one of their most pressing needs—a home to call their own. To find out more, visit OperationFinallyHome.org.