(Article written by Sherry Mitchell on April 28, 2015. Published in the Hendersonville Standard. For more pics from this event, click HERE
. For video coverage by News Channel 2, click HERE
A Small Gesture for a Big Sacrifice
Sometimes thank you isn't enough to express the gratitude of America's service men and women. One local builder is showing appreciation to a local wounded veteran and his family with a brand new home.
held a groundbreaking Wednesday in the Millstone
subdivision in Hendersonville - the site of a new future home for U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Joseph James, his wife Jarin and their three daughters. The event was held in cooperation with Operation FINALLY HOME
- a national nonprofit that helps build homes for disabled veterans.
While serving, James was deployed three times in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and once in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He was honored with a Bronze Star, a Meritorious Service Medal and four Army Commendation Medals.
It was while on one of those deployments, that James was badly injured and lost both legs.
"Five months into a 15-month tour, his Humvee was struck simultaneously by two improvised explosive devices (IEDs)," Rachael Overall, director of marketing for Goodall Homes
. "James suffered physical injuries including a right below-knee amputation, left above-knee amputation, as well as numerous shrapnel wounds to the back as a result of the explosion.
Throughout his recovery, he has endured around 18 different surgeries, Overall said.
"In therapy, James advanced rapidly through his training, learning how to walk, and even run using prosthetics," she said. "He received his promotion to Sgt. 1st Class in March of 2009 and continued his physical training in the military, participating in numerous 5K races, as well as training for sporting events for disabled athletes."
The family was told in late August about the new home by Goodall Homes
and Operation FINALLY HOME
"We did the surprise at LP field during a Titans game - they were invited to the game," Overall said. "They thought Joe was going to get the game ball, but he did not know he was about to get the surprise of a lifetime for he and his family."
For James, the new home is a dream come true, but it has also been emotional.
"It's hard to use words to say how I feel - it's overpowering the amount of love I felt going through this process," he said. "Total strangers I have never met will come up to me and thank me for my service and tell me I'm a hero. I'm not a hero man; WWII veterans are the heroes - I rather be an advocate for veterans."
This will be the second home Goodall has built through the Operation Finally Home program.
"We have a strong sense of philanthropy at Goodall and we respect our veterans tremendously," she said. "They sacrifice their lives to keep us safe and we feel like it's our job to give back to those veterans when we can, and one of the ways we do that is through Operation Finally Home - it's such a great cause."
The custom-built home will be mortgage-free for the family and specialized to make life easier for James.
"The home will have extra wide doorways so he doesn't have to worry about the wheelchair banging up the doorways and so he can get around easier in the home," Overall said.