Purple Heart vets celebrate Thanksgiving in their own homes

Bank of America and the Military Warriors Support Foundation is giving a special Thanksgiving to two Arlington Veterans and their families who were awarded homes earlier this year.

Both families are celebrating their first Thanksgiving in their new homes after being accepted into the Homes 4 Wounded Heroes program -- a partnership between Bank of America and the Military Warriors Support Foundation which awards homes to wounded veterans.

To properly mark the occasion, Bank of America staff members visited each family Wednesday; bringing with them all the fixings for a Thanksgiving celebration with family and friends.

The Arlington Voice visited with these Iraq veterans and their families. Here are their stories:

Meet Army Sergeant Andrew Brady and his family

Retired Army Sergeant Andrew Brady joined the army after college. He was one month into his second Iraq tour when he was severely wounded.

Sgt. Brady’s wife, Amy Brady, spoke of the challenges his injury forced them to face and the impact it had on their family.

“Fortunately, it was Andrew who phoned to tell me of his injury and not a stranger," Amy Brady said. "It was December 2008, so the holidays hold some bittersweet memories for us. We struggled at first, but in the end his injury has brought us closer together.”

The Brady Family - photo courtesy Penny Clark

Sgt. Brady brought his wife and two children to live with his parents while he recuperated.

“Finding the Military Warriors Support Foundation changed our lives,” Sgt. Brady said.

"At first, we were uncomfortable sharing personal information with strangers," Amy Brady said. "But our mentor at Military Warriors has become a family friend. Their program has brought us peace of mind and given us strategic steps to financial stability. We encourage other veterans to explore this program.”

Sgt. Brady added that he was very impressed with the follow through of everyone from Bank of American and the Military Warriors Support Foundation.

“They stay in touch and are an excellent source of encouragement and information,” Sgt. Brady said.

Sgt. Brady and his wife are Arlington natives. Their new home is just twelve miles from his boyhood home.

Meet Army Sergeant Toby Green and his family

Retired Army Sergeant Toby Green and his wife Natasha Green met and married while both were perusing their careers in military service.

It was after thirteen years of service, and his third tour of Iraq that Sgt. Green was injured by a vehicle bomb improvised explosive device.

While he appeared to recover, he suffered from back pain. He collapsed while training for a fourth tour, revealing the severity of his injury. Surgeons placed rods along his spine to stabilize his back, but the extent of the injury put an end to his military career.

Upon his hospital release, he was given a list of dozens of programs designed for veterans. While reviewing the list, Sgt. Green found the Military Warriors Support Foundation’s “Homes 4 Wounded Heroes” program.

The Green Family along with Bank of America representative in the background. - photo by Russ Van Der Linden

“As a Purple Heart recipient, I’m a preferred candidate for this program. It’s worth a try,” Sgt. Green recalled thinking. He faxed in an application but soon forgot about it.

“I received an invitation in November 2012 to attend a Dallas Cowboy’s game as part of Military Appreciation Day. My birthday is in November and I thought ‘What a great gift!’," Sgt. Green said.

The Green family was flown from Fort Stewart, Georgia and during half-time -- to their surprise -- were invited onto the field and recognized.

“I looked around and my family and I were alone on the field with Jerry Jones," Sgt. Green said. "What is going on? Where is everyone else?”

It was then that Sgt. Green and his family were presented with the key to their new Arlington home.

Natasha Green is passionate about spreading the news of programs available to vets.

“I invite my fellow veterans to contact me via Facebook," Natasha Green said. "I want to share information about all the programs that are available. As a vet, I know how hard it is for us to ask for help. . But please ask!”

Their first Thanksgiving in their new home will be shared with family and friends. Natasha Green said it is the first time in nine years she has been with her family for a Holiday.

“It was always just a phone call,” Natasha Green said.

She was on a career path with her military service but realized that she had missed so many years with her children and family, she retired to be home.

“My military experiences makes having a home of my own very important to me,” Natasha Green said.

Today, Sgt. Green is studying physical education and aspires to coach sports. His wife is studying criminal justice and looking forward to a new civilian career.

Bank of America Program

The regional Bank of America director of Property Donations, Ann Thorn, explained that Bank of America partners with various programs such as the Military Warriors Support Foundation with the goal of placing families in homes that would otherwise stand empty, and potentially destabilize neighborhoods.

“Bank of America has a corporate goal of donating 1,000 homes across America to military veterans and first responders," Thorn said.

To date, over 800 families have received homes. In Texas, 323 homes have been donated. Of those, 170 have gone to military families.

She explained that the Military Warriors Support Foundation was created by the vision of Lt. General, Leroy Sisco.

Sisco recognized that transitioning to civilian life after military service is difficult at best. Being wounded brings additional complications and can put these heroes and their families in a very fragile state.

Sisco designed the Military Warriors Support Foundation as a three-year program that mentors families through every transitional stage.