Story by Austin Wells, Blue Ribbon News staff writer, reporter and photographer
(ROCKWALL, TX – August 10, 2015) American banners courtesy of the Rockwall Fire and Police Departments lined Wincrest Drive in High Pointe Lake Estates August 10th, as community members gathered at the groundbreaking ceremony for the future home of U.S. Army Sergeant First Class Jerry Holcomb and his family.
Sergeant Holcomb – who suffers from some major health issues including a traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, neck, shoulder and back pain after three deployments in Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan – was given a custom-built, mortgage-free home courtesy of Operation Finally Home, Mishler Builders, Inc., and sponsors, including the Dallas Builders Association, TXU Energy and FC Dallas.
Addressing the gathering of supporters, Sergeant Holcomb thanked all of those involved in helping make the American dream a reality for him and his family.
“We’re so very blessed to be here and be a part of this community,” Jerry said. “We’re shown so much love and support, and we’re just so overwhelmed. Most of all, I’d like to thank my wife. She’s been my rock through all of this. The military spouse is the toughest of them all, not the military soldier. She has to keep it together when you’re deployed, and if it wasn’t for her I probably wouldn’t be here.”
The Dallas Builders Association, a non-profit trade organization chartered by the State of Texas, has partnered with Operation Finally Home on a number of occasions to provide homes for combat wounded veterans and widows of fallen soldiers. The Holcomb custom-built home will be their third project overall.
“This particular endeavor is a long term one for us,” said Phil Crome of the Dallas Builders Association. “This is something that we’re so honored to be a part of. Along with what we do for our veterans, just how it has galvanized our membership and having the opportunity to provide the American dream for folks who have sacrificed so much to protect the American dream, that’s one of the highest callings I can think of in this industry.”
Mike Mishler of Mishler Builders, Inc. and Ronnie Lyles with Operation Finally Home each spoke to how the project has garnered the support of many throughout the community, with close to 100 percent of all the materials having been donated for the Holcomb family’s future home.
“It’s a good way that we can give back to all of those who give so much to us,” Mishler said. “There are so many people serving overseas and right here in our country for us and so we just need to take care of them, and this is one of the ways that we can do that.”
“It takes a lot of people; this is basically a 21st century barn raising where we’re calling on people who have expertise, and their trades and their supplies, to be a part of this, so at the end of the day we are actually providing a mortgage-free home to a true American hero,” Lyles said. “We couldn’t do it without the community coming together.”
The whole process for acquiring a new mortgage-free home for Jerry and his family began nearly a year ago when Heath resident Craig Fletcher approached Mishler with the idea for the project. Craig’s father, 85-year-old Charlie Fletcher, began talking to Charlie about doing something substantial and long-term for those veterans who are returning home and their families, to show appreciation for their bravery, sacrifice and service. Since Charlie has been in the home-building industry his whole life, Craig thought that might be a great place to start, and the idea of building homes for disabled veterans was born. Craig discussed the idea with Mike Mishler, who introduced him to Operation Finally Home and what they were all about.
“Operation Finally Home was so full of integrity, they were even willing to give us years of financial status in order that we would know that they are all about the recipient and the donors,” Craig said. “We thought that was highly credible, and so we were pleased that God put all of this together.”
According to Mike Mishler, the Holcomb family can expect to move into their new home in early 2016.
Other guest speakers of the event included Rockwall County Commissioner Lee Gilbert, McLendon-Chisholm Mayor Gary Moody and Michelle Zook, veteran services liaison of Congressman John Ratcliffe. Dorothy Spradlin sang the National Anthem.
Established in 2005, Operation Finally Home – a nonpartisan / nonprofit 501(c)3 organization now in its 10th year of providing custom-built, mortgage-free homes to America’s wounded veterans and the widows of the fallen – partners with corporate sponsors, builder associations, builders, developers, individual contributors and volunteers to help America’s military heroes and their families transition to the home front by addressing one of their most pressing needs: a home to call their own. To find out more, visit OperationFinallyHome.org.