(Written by Tena Lee for The Tennessean
on September 18, 2015. Click here
for full article. If you would like to see video from local news stations, click HERE
for News Channel 4 coverage and HERE
for News Channel 5 coverage.)
A wounded veteran deployed four times to Iraq received the keys to his family’s new mortgage-free home on Friday.
And while retired U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Joseph James thanked those who made the gift possible – mainly the non-profit group Operation Finally Home and Goodall Homes
– he also acknowledged others who have served their country.
James, who lost parts of both of his legs when the Humvee he was riding in was struck by two improvised explosive devices in April 2008, dedicated his new home to the memory of Maj. Mark Rosenberg.
“This is for you, Maj. Rosenberg,” James said. Rosenberg died from injuries sustained in the same explosion that wounded James.
Veterans are dying at home as well, he noted, calling the suicide rate among veterans “unacceptable.”
“Even though the fight is over on the battlefield, it will never be over mentally ,” he said. “Call a veteran today and let them know you care about them. They are our nation’s heroes and they should not be lost in this way.”
James made his remarks at a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by city officials as well as employees and officials with Operation Finally Home, Goodall Homes, sponsor J.C. Penney and Southern Living, who filmed the ceremony and "home reveal" as part of Building Hope, a new video series that documents the journeys of five veterans who receive new, mortgage-free homes.
Operation Finally Home and Goodall Homes
surprised the James family with the home announcement during a Titans game at Nissan Stadium (formerly LP Field) in August 2014, and broke ground on the home in Hendersonville's Millstone
community in April 2015.
Rusty Carroll, executive director of Operation Finally Home, said the organization has dedicated 92 homes to veterans in the last 10 years. It is the second Operation Finally Home project in Hendersonville.
Established in 2005, the Texas-based nonprofit provides custom-built, mortgage-free homes to military veterans and widows by partnering with corporate sponsors, builder associations, builders, developers, individual contributors and volunteers.
“This never gets old,” said Carroll, adding he has spent the last year-and-a-half getting to know James, his wife Jarin and their three daughters. “You are an inspiration to so many in ways you don’t even imagine.”
Hendersonville Mayoral Assistant Don Long welcomed the James family to Hendersonville on behalf of Mayor Scott Foster.
“This community is about faith and family,” said Long. Noting his involvement in the Hendersonville Rotary Club, Long added James is a prime example of the club’s motto, “Service Above Self.”
“Thank you for what you’ve done and welcome to Hendersonville,” Long added.
Deployed three times to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and once to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, James has been awarded a Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal and four Army commendation medals.
He and his family have been living in the Bethpage area of Sumner County since retiring from the U.S. Army in 2009.
Building Hope premieres on SouthernLiving.com on Oct. 1. The Building Hope episodes featuring Sgt. James and his family will premiere on SouthernLiving.com on Nov. 2.