Down economy stalls home-building project for veterans
Posted May 25, 2009
Fuquay-Varina, N.C. — A group of area veterans needs help in their fight to build homes for injured soldiers.
"Operation Coming Home" was supposed to be an annual event, with new houses for other deserving veterans being built each year. However, the economy has grounded the project for now.
In October, Sgt. Joey Bozik received the keys to his new Fuquay-Varina house, courtesy of "Operation Coming Home." His move in was four years to the day from when he was wounded in Iraq.
A roadside bomb in Iraq injured Bozik. The 26-year-old former sergeant with the 118th Military Police Company from Fort Bragg lost both legs and his right arm when an anti-tank mine exploded under his Humvee.
His house was built by a group of military veterans who are now real estate agents and home builders. It has special features to make Bozik's life easier, including radiant heat floors, easy-access cabinets, a sprinkler system and appliances with special hinges and levers that make opening doors easier.
"Operation Coming Home" hoped to have another house built this year, but the recession is halting that plan.
“About six weeks ago, at a board meeting, we sat down around the table and we just looked at the facts. We didn't have the contributions coming in that we had hoped," said Jim Karr, vice president of Triangle Real Estate and Construction Veterans (TREACV), the group that built Bozik's home.
"Some of the interest that was expressed by the developers and builders, while they're still interested, their situation may not have improved like they had hoped, and they couldn't step up like they wanted to."
The project isn't dead, but plans for another home by Veteran's Day are on hold.
“It may not be Veteran's Day of this year that we get a home in, but maybe by the spring of 2010 we can have a home in the ground ready for a veteran," Karr said.
Karr said he is confident that the public will step up, and help the project live on.
“At the end of the day, we don't want this to be the TREACV's grand success. We want this to be veterans giving back to veterans. We want this to be America giving back to those who put their lives on the line,” Karr said.
As for Joey Bozik, he isn't letting his disability keep him down. He spent the weekend traveling to golf tournaments in Houston and Atlanta.