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Broken Arrow Veteran, Family Receive Mortgage-Free Home

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A Broken Arrow military family is living in a mortgage free home. A Broken Arrow military family is living in a mortgage free home.
For 22 years of service to our country, Staff Sergeant Duane Merchant got the keys to the home Thursday morning. For 22 years of service to our country, Staff Sergeant Duane Merchant got the keys to the home Thursday morning.
Bank of America donates abandoned homes while working with Military Warriors Foundation to identify worthy recipients. Bank of America donates abandoned homes while working with Military Warriors Foundation to identify worthy recipients.

A Broken Arrow military family is living in a mortgage free home after Bank of American donated it to the retired U.S. Army Staff Sergeant, Thursday.

For 22 years of service to our country, Staff Sergeant Duane Merchant got the keys to the home Thursday morning. It was life changing for him and his family.

“The day that I put him on the bus to go to Iraq changed our life. It hasn't been an easy one. It's been a very hard road,” said Merchant's wife Angela.

Duane joined the military in 1988, but had to leave it when he got hurt in combat.

"Outside of Baghdad, when I got shot, I hit my head and it caused me to have a brain injury,” he said.

For his service to the country, the father of five won a Purple Heart and army commendation medals, plus a place in Broken Arrow to call home.

"They were an emotional wreck in a good way. It was fantastic,” said Bill Lissau with Bank of America.

The emotions were running high as community members greeted the family to watch the keys being handed over, but not before pausing to honoring the sacrifices made.

"I didn't need a house for doing my job, but it was a new start. We talked it over and said okay,” Duane said.

He said okay to Bank of America who donates abandoned homes while working with Military Warriors Foundation to identify worthy recipients.

“It is a nice house, it was abandoned, squatters were living in it. In this kind of environment it takes down the community that it's in, so really what this program does is revitalize the community, revitalize the neighborhood and also gives back to our soldiers so it's a win-win,” said Lissau.

Angela was at a loss for words as the family toured the mortgage free home for the first time.

“Breathtaking. Wonderful,” she said.

Bank of America recently surpassed its goal to donate 1,000 properties to military service member families and first responders. This is the eighth one in Oklahoma. 

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