When Army veteran Javier Rivera first heard about Homes for Our Troops, he was at a Christmas party having a conversation with another veteran.
“He was in the process of getting a house,” Rivera said.
HFOT builds new and specially custom homes for veterans who sustained injuries in combat.
Rivera is from Puerto Rico and said his stepfather’s cousin was an Army paratrooper. When Rivera saw him in his uniform and beret, he was impressed.
“I told my dad, ‘That’s what I want to do,’” he said.
According to HFOT, Rivera was on his second deployment when he got injured in Afghanistan. The vehicle he was in was hit by an improvised explosive device. He lost his right hand and was burned over 40% of his body.
Thus, he began years of rehabilitation, and Rivera was medically retired from Army.
“I retired December 2011, and that was like three months shy of 10 years,” Rivera said.
So, he applied, and a year later, he received the news that he was approved to get a new home.
On Friday, Rivera and his family received keys to their new home in New Braunfels, and he wasn’t the only combat veteran to get a new house. Army veteran Michael Lage got his keys for his home in Spring Branch.
Lage was on his third tour in Iraq when his vehicle was struck by an IED. He was the only survivor, HFOT said on its website.
He had to get a life-saving splenectomy, and he suffered severe facial burns, as well as burns on his limbs. He also lost his left hand and a right thumb.
With these specially designed and adaptive homes, both men will be able to get around and do things easier. For Lage, he had difficulty opening doors, and because of the severe burns on his legs, going up stairs was challenging.
For Rivera, he will be able to sweep on the hard-wooden floors with his one hand. And since he is still recovering from his burns, the house will have tinted windows, central air and a covered patio, protecting him from the Texas heat.
Lastly, both men and their families will be mortgage free.
“Today is going to be a good day,” Rivera said.
For more information on Homes for Our Troops, visit www.hfotusa.org.