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Community celebrates injured veteran receiving specialized home

Sgt. David Guzman served in the Army from 1989 to 2005. He was medically discharged after suffering injuries from an improvised explosive device in Iraq.

WIMBERLEY, Texas — Saturday morning, people from around Wimberley gathered at the VFW post to celebrate Sgt. David Guzman and his family. The nonprofit group Homes for Our Troops (HFOT) will be constructing a home for the Guzman family in 2020.

The home will feature unique differences to specifically suit Guzman's injuries sustained from an improvised explosive device that blew up near Guzman's vehicle in Iraq. Guzman said he will use special stools and benches to elevate his leg when sitting for a long period of time.

"What happened happened," Guzman said, "in the sense of I signed on the dotted line and I would do it again."

After being medically discharged in 2005 due to gangrene developing in his wound, Guzman still wanted to give back. He went back to school and learned to be a chef. Now, he cooks for groups or will pay it forward at restaurants.

"You see somebody surprised you paid for a meal at a restaurant – you see that smile but you're trying not to look at them and they're scratching their head like, 'Who did it?'" Guzman said.

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Guzman found out early in 2019 HFOT selected him to receive a home. He visited the property for the first time on Friday.

"That was a really pinch-me moment," Guzman said.

Guzman and his family live in Mission, Texas, about four-and-a-half hours away.

"We chose Wimberley kind of as a blind spot on the map," Guzman joked.

He added his family wanted a change of pace, plus living in Wimberley would be easier access to the Veterans Affairs health center, his two sons while they are in college and culinary school and two major airports in Austin and San Antonio.

"The longevity is going to be there," Guzman said, "the less struggles you're going to have in your home."

Guzman is not alone as a recipient of a house from Homes for Our Troops. The organization said 38 houses have been built in Texas so far – the most of any state.  

"It’s not just a place to live, but it will improve their quality of life, their outlook on life, and it allows us as injured veterans to not have to worry about our housing or ability situation," Cpl. Travis Echols said.

Echols lost one of his legs while serving in the military. He moved into his new home just outside New Braufels in 2017.

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