NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Having a loved one deployed is stressful. Losing a loved one to combat only amplifies that stress.
For three Fort Campbell Gold Star Families, though, at least one stressor in their lives has been removed.
On Friday during a ceremony in Nashville they received the keys to mortgage-free homes courtesy of Homes for Our Troops and Bank of America.
“Homes for Our Troops is a nonprofit organization,” said Victoria Redding, Gold Star Family member and recipient of one of the homes. “They’re giving us a home that was so generously donated by Bank of America mortgage free so that we can have the financial freedom to move on with our lives.”
Redding’s husband, Spc. Blaine Redding, served with A Company, 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division. On June 7, 2010, he and four other Soldiers died when their vehicle struck an improvised explosive device in Kunar province, Afghanistan.
The other Gold Star Families to receive homes were Savannah Jirtle, widow of Spc. Charles Jirtle who served in the same unit and died in the same IED blast as Redding, and Luisa Vargas, widow of Spc. Anthony Vargas, Troop C, 1st Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team. Vargas died Nov. 8, 2010 in an IED blast in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan.
“I know that he would be honored they’re thinking of him in that way by taking care of his Family,” said Redding.
“That would mean the world to him … He wanted to know that we’re going to be OK and that our Family was going to be OK. This is definitely a way I think of him shining down on me.”
Tim McHale, president of Homes for Our Troops, explained why he feels it is important his organization has helped to get homes for more than 120 seriously wounded Soldiers and their Families, as well as Gold Star Families.
“It’s very special,” McHale said. “It’s heartwarming that we can do something like this. We do not see this as charity. We see this as a moral obligation of our society when our Soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines go to war and they lose a loved one or they’re seriously injured that we help them in any way we can. Our mission is to do some of these things, and it’s very meaningful to us.”
Redding is thankful for the new home. For her, she sees it as an opportunity to finish her education and worry less about paying for school since she won’t have to pay a mortgage.
“I’ll be done in May and [ready to] educate our youth about [what’s] going on in the world,” said Redding. “It’s a blessing to be able to do that with financial freedom.”
McHale, a former 101st Airborne Division Soldier, explained Homes for Our Troops started nine years ago and launched the program for Gold Star Families one year ago.
“We have 40 people on our staff,” said McHale. “We build homes all over the country for severely injured veterans … They have [more than] 155 special adaptive specifications to meet the needs of our wounded veterans.”
“This program is different than our new home program,” added McHale when taking about the partnership with Bank of America. “We have opened it up for these [foreclosed] homes and renovated homes. Bank of America is helping us and we’re helping them find Gold Star Families and other veterans that have other injuries that need this kind of help.”
Redding explained it was a long process to apply for the home, but that it was well worth it and was pleased with everyone she worked with from Homes for Our Troops.
“If I needed to call them, they were there,” she said. “I know so many people from the organization just by name because they contact me so much to know what’s going on, if I’m doing OK and if I need anything. They’re great.”
“I just can’t say it enough how grateful I am,” said Redding.