Hope and homes for veterans

August 20, 2009 4:54:26 PM PDT
There was applause for a veteran and his family as they received the key to a different life. A group that helps wounded troops is helping him get a new home. For many veterans disabled by war, adjustment to life in back home is difficult. With limited income and families to support, just putting a stable roof over their heads can be difficult. For one local soldier, the future just got a lot more stable thanks to HelpingAHero.org.

The sound of applause in east Houston is so very different than the sound of gunfire in Iraq. For Sgt. Andrew Beesley and his family, this is a day they never thought would come. They received a $25,000 down payment grant and a key to the front door of their future home.

"Thank you everyone for opening up your hearts and helping my family to move on in our lives," said Sgt. Beesley.

The retired soldier still suffers from a variety of post-war ailments. Sometimes even playing with his two little girls is difficult. Now they'll have a home.

"Having a stable where they go to school, know where home is every day, and not have it change, that would make me feel so much better," said Karleen Beesley, Andrew's wife.

Eventually, the Beesleys will move into a house similar to this one, where Rene Fernandez and his family live. In the eight months they've been here, it is life-changing.

"You feel like you don't deserve it, you feel like it should be to somebody else, but in the end all these people look at us and say you do deserve it," said Fernandez.

Fernandez and his family received the keys to their house last December from former President George H.W. Bush. Since then, the children have settled into every corner of this comfortable home. Fernandez is now helping other wounded veterans, including Beesley, with the process of applying for and receiving a home through the Helping A Hero program.

"I think everyone who comes home deserves something, whether it's a handshake or a house. Just saying thank you means the world to a soldier," said Sgt. Beesley.

Wounded veterans have to apply and be approved for the program. The houses purchased through this program costs about $250,000. Donations cover around $200,000, while the veterans' mortgages are usually $50,000.

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