After debating applying with Operation Homefront and their Homes on the Homefront program for a couple months, Kevin and I decided to go ahead and apply. Chase (the bank/mortgage company) partnered with OHF in February of this year under the intentions that they are going to award 100 wounded combat veterans and their families bank owned homes across the country - mortgage free. When Tim McGraw caught word of this, he jumped in and partnered with the Homes on the Homefront program awarding 25 of these homes.
Now, let me tell you our story and how this fits into our family.
A little over two weeks Kevin and I logged on to the OHF website and eased our way onto the Homes on the Homefront page, where we located a house in Macon that was going to be released the following day for applications to be submitted. Needless to say, the following day we submitted our application and heard back from our now caseworker the following day. During the following week, we found ourselves filling out paperwork and submitting documents, providing referrals and resources. Almost exactly a week later, we received the call that changed our lives...
Our OHF caseworker, Andrea called to confirm our travel arrangements on June 7 - which consisted of going to Dothan, AL for a few nights, then to BamaJam to have a meet and greet with Tim McGraw himself before his concert. At this point, we were under the impression that the ones moving into the Macon house would be announced then. After verifying arrangements, Andrea asked me if I was sitting down. After I told her I was, she then went on to say, "Congratulations Brittney. The committee has chosen you, Kevin, and your children to award the Macon home to." To say I was overfilled with emotions consisting of appreciation, excitement, disbelief, shock, and much, much more would be an absolute understatement. This was actually happening to us. We were the ones that the committee of Operation Homefront decided upon. As I heard the words, I broke into tears and felt like I could not breathe. Andrea asked if I was okay and still breathing as I tried to get my words out. How do you find words for something like this? Thank you is just not sufficient enough. My family is one of the 25 under Operation Homefront, Chase, and Tim McGraw. There are just no words.
Since the phone call, a week and a half ago, I have remained in shock. I have shed many tears of relief, disbelief, joy, and appreciation. For the first time in such a long time I feel like a weight has been lifted off of me and I can almost breathe again. There are no words for the gratitude that we have for all involved and what they are doing. They are making dreams come true and are enabling families to live again. To me, this is something one hears about, yet never thinks it will happen to them. This is something you see occurring on the television, not actually living. There is absolutely no way to ever repay this, which is why all I can do is say we will be giving back to veterans and their families that much more. I want to take this and turn around and make more positive impacts on our heroes and their families. This enables Kevin to receive better medical care at the local VA CBOC, sufficient mental health care for his PTSD. We will be closer to the VA hospital for his multiple monthly appointments, versus living three hours from the VA hospital like we do now. Every trip is hell on Kevin, from his physical injuries to his mental. This allows the children and I to be under the care of better doctors and the children education.
Every time I try to speak of this, I find myself choked up and in tears. Crying has become a "normal" thing for me when this comes up. I am overfilled in emotions that I myself am trying to define. We have been through hell between the severity of Kevin's combat injuries and my health and for the first time in years I feel like I am on the verge of being able to breathe again.
I have been sitting at my desk for an hour now, attempting to write this and cannot honestly find words that are adequate enough to express the way we feel or explain things. The past two weeks have thrown me onto an emotional roller coaster, but in an amazing way. We will soon have a place we can call "home". For the first time our daughters will have their own bedrooms. We will have a fenced in backyard and a house that suits us. A house that is by far the nicest of all that Kevin and I have lived in. We will have a house that means no more moving, one that our children can grow in.
On Thursday, June 14 - which was also Flag Day and the Army's Birthday - we met with the VP from the Chase program, his wife, and with an OHF Liaison. We all rode to the concert together, which was a nice experience in itself. The closer we got to the park, the more apprehensive Kevin became. He began to feel overwhelmed just by thinking about the crowd and traffic. The weather had been horrible that afternoon, knocking out power lines, delaying concerts at BamaJam, and even leaving it to where some performances were cut. It was drizzling a bit when we arrived, but nothing too bad. The traffic was horrendous, but surprisingly the crowds weren't in the beginning. Someone from Tim McGraw's team met us in front of the lines of people attempting to get in and escorted us past the lines, the security and to the behind the stage area/catering tents, where we waited for awhile. Then we were escorted to the tent area that would hold the meet and greet. We were told to remain at the end of the line since we would be that last ones to meet with Tim before he went on stage.
Once we were able to meet with Tim, I began to feel all of the emotions hitting and even as surreal as things seemed to be, the reality was beginning to hit me. We are moving into a house that is soon to be ours. That is close to impossible to even fathom right now. Kevin walked up to him before I did and after introductions told Tim "Thank you" for all that he is doing. Tim looked at him like he had lost his mind and responded with "Shit man, are you kidding me? Thank you for all that you and your family have done..." It was incredibly sincere. This was the point that I began to struggle with keeping it together. Music is my own therapy, so many of his songs are on my playlist because his music holds so much meaning and truth and has helped me through so many situations and obstacles in life. My favorite is "Somebody Must Be Prayin", as well as his new one that hits me hard, "Better Than I Use to Be" - which explains how I feel often. Music helps me keep it together. Here one of the musicians that I respect the most was thanking my husband and our family. I looked at Kevin, then to Tim and turned around praying to keep my composure. After we chatted for a bit, we left so that he could get ready to head up on stage. I made it halfway up the steps before Kevin said "Awww, I think Britt is starstruck". All I could do was shake my head and mumble that was not the case before the flood gates opened. On a different note, Tim is one of the most sincere people that is down to earth and all around seems like a great guy!
As I broke into tears all I could do was turn to Ebony and thank her and OHF for this amazing opportunity, then do the same to Rusty for what Chase is doing. Without them, this would never even have been a possibility. I am still struggling to find my words and to process everything. I am not sure when I will be able to process it all or when the reality of it will all fully hit me. My heart is overfilled with joy and appreciation. Our lives have been changed in an amazing way and each of us are eternally grateful. We will soon be close to our parents and siblings, which has each of them overfilled with joy and gratitude as well. So much has happened in our lives that has left us struggling and full of battles, yet we managed to keep a smile on our faces even when breaking down behind closed doors. We managed to keep our faith, hoping and praying that someday things would turn around. This house, OHF, Chase, and Tim are allowing this to happen. They are making dreams come true. Many times Kevin and I debated on backing out of this because we did not feel worthy of such a thing. Kevin still questions many things. But, after talking to Ebony and to others, we couldn't be more excited and ready for the next step as we are now.
At this point, we are waiting for the bid to come back on the rehab/modifications of the house. Chase is modifying our house to fit Kevin's needs, to accommodate him and his mobility.
If you or someone you know is looking for a place to donate, I urge you to donate to Operation Homefront. This is an organization that is changing the lives of many veterans and their families in need. They are making dreams come true. They are alleviating stresses in our lives and in the lives of people throughout the nation. Kevin and I will be donating monthly once we are able to, after we are moved. You can go to, http://www.operationhomefront.net to view their website. To read more about Chase and Tim McGraw, go to http://www.operationhomefront.net/timmcgraw.aspx.
I am sure as time goes on, I will write more as the days come and I can process this. Right now, my words are not coming out as I would like. I want people to become better educated on the injuries of combat. Many look at Kevin and see nothing wrong by a glance. Physically he is wounded, but mentally it is much more intense. I cannot even begin to explain what war has done by one post. Most days are a total struggle as he battles his injuries. Our lives forever changed after he deployed the first time. Little did we know things would happen as they have. I am becoming overly emotional writing this, so I am going to end it for now.
Thank you to all that said prayers and to those that have known the details, thank you for your support. It means the world to us.
To Operation Homefront, Chase, and Tim McGraw, from the bottom of our hearts we thank you. Words can never express the amount of gratitude we have. With one phone call, you changed our lives. You have moved quickly with things and with absolute grace. You have kept us informed and been amazing people to work with. We could not have asked for better people than what we have talked to and met and cannot wait to meet our caseworker, Andrea.
We will soon be in Macon, GA and cannot wait to see family and friends! It's time to come home!
|Tim autographed our tickets, one with Kick Ass!!! An cool photo of what we are doing with this to come!|
|Tim before the concert|
|Moments before he walked on stage|
|Our view from where we stood away from the crowd before leaving|
|Thank you Operation Homefront, Chase and Tim McGraw for our home!|
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