Veteran gets new house thanks to Operation Finally Home


by JIM BERGAMO / KVUE News and photojournalist Dennis Thomas

Bio | Email | Follow: @JimB_KVUE

Posted on December 16, 2013 at 7:31 PM

Updated Monday, Dec 16 at 7:35 PM

BUDA -- She's already received one of this country's highest military honors for her bravery in Iraq.  On Monday, this U.S. Army veteran received recognition of a different kind.

Sgt. Adria Garcia was one of three people in her unit who received the purple heart for injuries suffered during an attack in Iraq. Once home she battled Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and financial struggles, yet her friends say she never stopped helping others. That's what got the attention of Operation Finally Home.

With the words "move that truck" the large HEB tractor-trailer rolled away.  When it did, an even larger dream come true was revealed. It was a brand new Pulte home in Buda for Adria Garcia, her daughter and two granddaughters.

"It means a lot," said Garcia, holding back tears.  "I'm open to the blessings, because I know how it makes me feel to help others. I want them to feel as good as I feel. It feels great, it really does."

Before the tears of joy, there were tears due to hardship. Shrapnel wounds suffered in Iraq brought Garcia back home to Central Texas in 2005.  

"A lot our young men and women coming back from the war are experiencing a lot of the invisible wounds," said Dan Wallrath, the president and founder of Operation Finally Home.

Invisible wounds such as Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and money problems that led Garcia and her family nearly being evicted from her rental home.  Through it all she managed to find time to help others.

"Even when she was in one of her lowest points one of the stories is she was out at Habitat for Humanity painting a house," said Toby Ellsworth, Pulte's director of construction.  "That shows me she's a very selfless person.  She's there for other people as well.  It's nice to give back to somebody like that."

"A lot of people are given homes," said Cassaundra Melgar-C'Debaca, Garcia's friend who recommended her to Operation Finally Home.  "Adria is one of those people who is already sharing the true meaning of passing it on."

It's why Operation Finally Home, which builds mortgage free homes for deserving veterans, says Garcia is a perfect fit.

"You can literally notice the financial and other burdens just lifted from their face, and that never gets old," said Wallrath.

Operation Finally Home started in Houston eight years ago.  It's now spread to 15 states. Sixty homes are scheduled to be built next year. Corporate contributors like Pulte and HEB provide a portion of that, but another 4-million dollars in donations is necessary to make those homes a reality. 

Click here for the link to Operation Finally Home.