Home Destroyed By Vandals Remodeled, Given To Green Country Veteran
TULSA, Oklahoma - After a second remodel, a home targeted by vandals after a non-profit group finished original renovations in September is now home to a Green Country veteran who is an eight-time Purple Heart recipient.
Just in time for Veteran’s Day, the house was given mortgage-free with no strings attached to Colonel Steve Brown.
Tuesday, with a Patriot Guard Riders escort and American flags lining the lawn, Brown got a hero's welcome to the home he can now call his own.
“Today we are here to honor Colonel Steve Brown,” announced Nehemiah Business Development Manager, Donny Jones.
Brown served in the Army and fought during Vietnam with the Green Berets.
“The Green Berets of the 5th Group, my group, were the baddest of all. As in, most efficient in the battlefield,” Brown said.
He was injured three years in while parachuting into a small village. The enemy shot off his foot, but he survived and received eight Purple Hearts for his bravery.
“I've got some medals to wear,” Brown said. “I'm proud of them. I don't want to go back to Vietnam, I'll tell ya that.”
Brown is in Tulsa for good, thanks to the newly-renovated home given to him through a Bank of America and Nehemiah's 'Roofs for Troops' partnership.
Jones said, “I don't think we'll ever be able to thank him, and the millions of other people that have done that, but we are honored and blessed to do our little part.”
Roofs for Troops had to renovate the home a second time after vandals came and destroyed all the hard work right after $25,000 in renovations.
They knocked holes through the Sheetrock, ripped carpet from the floors, splashed paint on the windows, tore out a bathroom sink and turned on every faucet, flooding the home.
But after the second remodel, no one would ever know. And Brown isn't focusing on that anyway; instead, he's thankful and thinking about how nice it will finally be to have a place of this own to call home.
“It's very nice. I appreciate it very much,” he said.
No arrests have been made in the vandalism case, but some Tulsa Police officers did donate their time to help with the second remodel.
Brown will move in the home within the next few days; most of his furniture will be donated by Share House.
There's one more thing to do, and that's to install a ramp to help him get up and down the stairs - that should be taken care of in the next few days.
In 2012, Bank of America committed to donating 1,000 homes to military veterans across the United States - by 2014 it met that goal.
Bank of America has donated more than 5,700 homes nationally - more than 40 of those were to veterans and their families in Oklahoma.
“We want it to continue as long as it possibly could - until no veteran needs a home,” Bank of America business banking vice president Mary Burchett said.
Bank of America donates homes it owns to various non-profit groups that flip houses.
In Roofs for Troops case, it renovates a home and sells it to veterans at a deeply-discounted price. Jones said that generates enough revenue for the group to be able to give one in every ten homes away, which is the case with Brown.
“Free and clear, not strings attached. Our only hope is he understands how much we appreciate his service,” Jones said.
The group said it goes through a thorough evaluation with each family to make sure they can afford to pay taxes, bills and costs for the upkeep of a home.